Pastoral Letter Promulgating the Jubilee
MOST REV. MARTIN JOHN SPALDING, D. D.
ARCHBISHOP OF BALTIMORE,
TO THE CLERGY AND LAITY OF THE ARCHDIOCESE;
PROMULGATING THE JUBILEE.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY KELLY & PIET,
OFFICE OF THE "CATHOLIC MIRROR,"
No. 174 Baltimore Street.
MOST REV. MARTIN JOHN SPALDING, D. D.
ARCHBISHOP OF BALTIMORE,
TO THE CLERGY AND LAITY OF THE ARCHDIOCESE,
PROMULGATING THE JUBILEE.
Venerable Brethren of the Clergy:
Beloved Brethren of the Laity:—
In the first Pastoral Letters, which duty requires Us to address to you, it is Our happy privilege to be the bearer of good tidings of great joy. Our venerated and beloved Chief Pastor, Pius IX., has again opened the treasury of the Church to all the faithful of Christendom, and proclaimed a solemn Jubilee of thanksgiving and supplication.
I.—Jubilees under Pius IX.
This is the fifth Jubilee which he has announced, during his eventful Pontificate of nineteen years. The first was one of joy, on the occasion of his auspicious election to fill the Chair of Peter, in 1846; the second was in 1850, the regular period for the Jubilee, and it was one partly of joy for his return from exile at Gaeta, and partly of sorrow for the terrible ravages made by a bloody and uncalled for revolution, which had driven him from his See; the third—in 1854—was one of united supplication, to implore the light of heaven to guide him in the momentous question of authoritatively defining the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; the fourth—in 1858—was inspired by the holy joy which overflowed his paternal heart, after he had witnessed the devoted loyalty of his people during a triumphant progress he had made through a portion of his States—since snatched from him, alas! by the rapacious violence of a neighbor powerful as he was unscrupulous; and the fifth is that now proclaimed, to awaken the attention of all Christendom to the torrent of pestilent errors, which are now prevailing, and threatening to overwhelm the Church, and along with it, all civil society; and to unite all the faithful followers of Christ in one general and earnest supplication to God, that He would mercifully interpose to control the storm, and avert the impending danger.
II.—The Immortality of the Church.
Civil society may be subverted and may fall into anarchy and ruin, for civil society is but human; but the Church is divine and immortal; built on a rock by a divine Architect, it is guarantied from destruction by His infallible promise, that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The passions of the wicked and the powerful may be unchained against it, and their evil machinations may appear for a time to be on the point of compassing its destruction; their shouts of anticipated triumph may even ring through the world; but, in the end, they are themselves dashed to pieces against that rock, which has stood firm and unshaken amidst the storms of eighteen centuries, and their premature boasting is sure to be turned into the humiliation and confusion of defeat. It has been so for eighteen hundred years; it will be so, "all days, even to the consummation of the world!" He who built this everlasting Church—always "doomed to death, but ever fated not to die"—has said: "Heaven and earth may pass away, but My word shall not pass away." "Why," then, "have the gentiles raged and the people devised vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against His Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder; and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall laugh them to scorn!" (Psalm ii., 1—4.)
III.—Attitude of the Pontiff.
Amidst the fearful tempest which now threatens with shipwreck the feeble bark of Peter, the attitude of the humble Successor of the Fisherman is calm, collected, imperturbable, verging even on the sublime! It is the living embodiment of moral power clad in the panoply of heaven, contending hopefully and heroically against overwhelming physical force, armed with all the terrible appliances of modern warfare. A feeble old man, the weakest of all the sovereigns of Europe, despoiled by brute force of the better and richer portion of the small domain which had descended to him in peaceful and unquestioned succession for more than a thousand years, and which he held in sacred trust for the benefit of all Christendom; his status determined, and his possessions—or rather those of the Church—bartered away by diplomatic negotiations and conventions, coolly entered into without either his participation or consent, by powerful neighbors calling themselves children of the Church; brought to bay, at length, by the approaching crisis in his affairs, is he cast down, is he overwhelmed? No; but he rises buoyantly on the wave which threatens to ingulph him, and elevating himself to the full height of the emergency, he dares proclaim to emperors, kings, and peoples great truths and principles, which they appear to have forgotten, which it was not pleasant for them to hear, but which it was his duty to utter. With calm dignity becoming his station, he alludes not directly to his own particular grievances, but he takes in, at a glance, the evil principles and influences which threaten the subversion of all Society and of all Religion; and he boldly proclaims, that might does not consecrate right, that God and His Church are not to be banished with impunity from the government of the world, that human legislation is not to overbear divine principles and institutions, and that infidelity and radicalism will destroy, while Keligion alone can save human society from the deluge of evils which threatens its disorganization.
IV.—Defense of the Encyclical.
That this is the main drift and real import of the weighty Encyclical which has so startled the world, will sufficiently appear to every reflecting and impartial man from its careful perusal. The howl of indignation with which the world has received the document only proves, that the healing shaft has reached the ulcer which has so long threatened the very life of modern society; while the pains taken by the English press—from which a great portion of the American has copied—to mutilate and disfigure its meaning through a faulty translation, seems to indicate an instinctive dread, lest, if faithfully rendered, it might bear too forcibly on evils, which are the more fondly cherished, because they are flattering to the pride of the human heart, and have already become well nigh inveterate. It was to be expected that the world would be indignant, when it was thus suddenly awakened from its dream of an earthly Elysium, amid the wonderful modern developments of material comforts and interests, by the voice of a venerable man who dared tell its votaries, in the name of God, whose chief minister he is on earth, that "all is vanity," that "the figure of this world passeth away," and that the great end of our creation is not to accumulate wealth, but to lay up treasures in heaven, and to labor for eternity; but the verdict of the world is evidently much too interested and self-seeking, to possess any real weight with those upon whose souls the blessed light of revelation has dawned, and who, through God's teaching, have happily learned to estimate at their real value the baubles which men prize most, and through the inordinate love of which they peril their immortal souls, selling their birth-right to heaven for a mess of earthly pottage! "What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" "O sons of men, how long will ye be dull of heart? Why do ye love vanity, and seek after lying." (Psalm iv. 3.)
A few extracts from the Encyclical will establish the accuracy of Our interpretation of its real purport and meaning. The intrepid Pontiff unites with his Predecessors in warning the faithful against "the machinations of those evil men who, 'foaming out their own confusion, like the raging waves of the sea,' and promising liberty while they themselves are the slaves of corruption, have endeavored, by their fallacious opinions and most wicked writings, to subvert the foundations of the Catholic Religion and of civil Society, to remove from our midst all virtue and justice, to deprave the minds and hearts of all, to turn away from the right discipline of morals the incautious, and especially inexperienced youth, miserably corrupting them, leading them into the nets of error, and finally withdrawing them from the bosom of the Church." (P. 2, Official copy.)
Who these wicked men are, who thus machinate, the Pontiff sufficiently declares in the following passage: "For you know well, Venerable Brethren, that at this time there are found not a few, who applying to civil intercourse (consortio) the impious and absurd principle of what they call Naturalism, dare teach, that the best form (ratio) of society, and the exigencies of civil progress absolutely require human society to be constituted and governed without any regard whatever to Religion, as if this did not even exist, or at least without making any distinction between true and false religions." (P. 4.)
The men who advocate this, as the best theory of human society, are evidently not only latitudinarians, but downright infidels, who believe in Naturalism as opposed to Supernaturalism, in reason as opposed to Revelation, in man as opposed to God. And these same unscrupulous and impious men very naturally extend their theory of social optimism, so as to shield from just punishment "the violators of the Catholic Religion, unless in so far as the public peace may require." They very consistently advocate, "as the best condition of society," that in which they can at will rob the Catholic Church of its property, and violate all its time consecrated rights, provided they can do so with impunity, and without violating "the public peace!"
The idea of the Pontiff is still further illustrated in the following passage, in which he refers to the cherished error of these same Naturalists, who, impatient of all restraint, whether human or divine, seek to banish God and His eternal truth and justice from human society:—
"And since Religion has been excluded from civil society, and the doctrine and authority of divine Revelation repudiated, or the true and germane notion of justice and human right obscured and lost, and material or brute force substituted in the place of true justice and legitimate right, it is easy to perceive why some persons, forgetting and trampling upon the most certain principles of sound reason, dare cry out together, 'that the will of the people, manifested by what they call public opinion, or in any other way, constitutes the the supreme law, independent of all divine and human right, and that, in the political order, consummated facts, by the very fact that they are consummated, have the force of right.' But who does not see and plainly understand, that the society of men, freed from the bonds of Religion and true justice, can certainly have no other purpose than the effort to obtain and accumulate wealth, and that in its actions it follows no other law than that of the uncurbed cupidity which seeks to secure its own pleasures and comforts?" (P. 6.)
He goes on portraying these wicked men, whom he designates successively, Naturalists, Socialists, and Communists, setting forth their inveterate hatred of Religious Families (Conventual Establishments), whose rich possessions, so long devoted to the purposes of charity and learning, they ardently covet; their opposition to generous Catholic charity, evidenced by their openly announced wish, "that citizens and the Church should be deprived of the privilege of openly bestowing alms for the sake of charity;" and their manifest hatred of all Religion, exhibited in their desire to see abolished the wise Christian law, "by which, to afford facilities for the worship of God, servile works are prohibited on certain days;" finally, their favorite theory, "that domestic society, or the family, derives from the civil law alone all its rights of existence, and that consequently, all the right of parents over their children, and particularly the right of instruction and education, flows from and depends upon the civil law alone.' (Pp. 6 and 7.)
In the light of these declarations, openly and persistently made by the self-styled Liberals—but really infidels—of Europe, it is easy to understand what is contained in the Encyclical, in condemnation of the assertion by them, "that the liberty of conscience and of worship is the peculiar (inalienable) right of every man, which should be proclaimed by law, and asserted in every well constituted society, and that citizens have the right to all kinds of liberty (omnimodam libertatem), to be restrained by no law, whether ecclesiastical or civil, by which they may be enabled to manifest openly and publicly their ideas (conceptus) by word of mouth, through the press,, or by any other means." This species of lawless liberty he rightly designates, with the great St. Augustine, "the liberty of perdition." To the extent to which it is maintained by the European infidels, it amounts, in fact, to anarchy and Jacobinism in politics, and to radicalism, rationalism, and infidelity in Religion. These European Liberals are so enamored of liberty, as to desire its monopoly for themselves; they wish to enjoy it all, without allowing any of its privileges to their neighbors. While they claim the freedom to attack the most cherished institutions of Religion and Society, unrestrained by any law, human or divine, those whom they assail are to be denounced as friends of despotism, if they dare open their mouths in legitimate self-defence!
Is it not fair and equitable, Venerable and Beloved Brethren, to understand in this sense only the solemn denunciation of the Pontiff? Is it not a sound canon of interpretation, to seek the meaning of a declaration, particularly if it be a solemn and official one, in the context and the circumstances which called it forth? Is it not evident, from the mere reading of the Encyclical, that the liberty of conscience and of worship is condemned only in the sense, in which it was asserted by its latitudinarian and infidel champions? These maintain it, on the ground that all religions are alike and equal before God, as well as before men, and that they are all alike superstitious and false, good enough perhaps for nervous old women and feeble-minded children, but totally unworthy the attention of strong-minded men! This is surely rather license than liberty; it is infidelity rather than Religion. Every true lover of Christ and of His holy Religion should then cheerfully unite, heart and soul, with the Pontiff, in placing upon such liberty as this the stigma of solemn condemnation. "Oh liberty! How many crimes are not committed in thy name."
V.—Our Own Free Government—The Syllabus.
To stretch the words of the Pontiff, evidently intended for the stand-point of European radicals and infidels, so as to make them include the state of things established in this country, by our noble Constitution, in regard to the liberty of conscience, of worship, and of the press, were manifestly unfair and unjust. Divided as we were in religious sentiment from the very origin of our government, our fathers acted most prudently and wisely in adopting as an Amendment to the Constitution, the organic law, that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." (Amend 1.) In fact, under the circumstances, they could have adopted no other course, consistently with the principles and even with the very existence of our newly established government.
In adopting this Amendment, they certainly did not intend, like the European radicals, disciples of Tom Paine and of the French Revolution, to pronounce all religions, whether true or false, equal before God, but only to declare them equal before the law; or rather, simply to lay down the sound and equitable principle, that the civil government, adhering strictly to its own appropriate sphere of political duty, pledged itself not to interfere with religious matters, which it rightly viewed as entirely without the bounds of its competency. The founders of our government were, thank God, neither Latitudinarians nor infidels; they were earnest, honest men; and however much some of them may have been personally lukewarm in the matter of Religion, or may have differed in religious opinions, they still professed to believe in Christ and His Revelation, and exhibited a commendable respect for religious observances. Therefore their action could not have been condemned, or even contemplated, by the Pontiff, in his recent solemn censure, pronounced on an altogether different set of men with a totally different set of principles—on men and on principles so very clearly and emphatically portrayed in the document itself, which every sound canon of interpretation requires to be strictly construed.
All other matters contained in the Encyclical, as well as the long catalogue of eighty propositions condemned in its appendix, or Syllabus, are to be judged of by the same standard. These propositions are condemned in the sense of those who uttered and maintained them, and in no other. To be fair in our interpretation, we must never lose sight of the lofty stand-point of the Pontiff, who steps forth as the champion of law and order, against anarchy and revolution, and of revealed Religion against more or less openly avowed infidelity; nor should we forget the stand-point of those whose errors he condemns, who openly or covertly assail all revealed Religion, and seek to sap the very foundations of all well-ordered society; who threaten to bring back into the world the untold horrors of the French Revolution, and to make the streets and the highways run with the blood of the best and noblest citizens. Their covert attacks against Religion and Society are, perhaps, even more formidable than their open assaults. Against the latter, the virtuous are readily guarded and armed; against the former, which often bear the appearance of good, and whose evil drift is not so easily perceived, we are are not so well prepared, and the poison of error is often insidiously instilled into the minds and hearts of the well-disposed but simple-minded, before they even think of guarding against danger, or seasonably applying the antidote.
And this naturally leads us to another remark, the justtice and fairness of which will be apparent to every rightminded thinker. It is this. Propositions condemned in globo like those in the Syllabus, are intended to receive different measures of censure, according to their intrinsic nature and their extrinsic bearings: some are censured much more mildly than others; and some even more from the too general or dangerous interpretation of which they are susceptible, or which they have actually received from their authors, than from intrinsic reasons founded upon the strict construction of the text, itself, apart from its surroundings. All who are familiar with the course usually adopted by the Holy See, in condemning thus in globo whole series of propositions extracted from the writings of suspected or heretical authors, will discover, at a glance, the equity and justice of this statement.
Those who are so indignant at the plain speaking of the Papal denunciation, would do well to reserve a portion of their anger for the inspired Apostle of the gentiles, who stigmatizes error and vice with at least equal point and boldness. In the following passage, he graphically portrays the pernicious errors and the glaring wickedness of these very "last days" upon which we are so sadly fallen;—every epithet in it is a picture drawn from life, and the whole is a word-painting of marvellous truth and power; prophecy revealing the mystery of iniquity, "which is now working," to his eagle glance, and inspiration pointing his pen:—
"Know this also, that in the last days dangerous times shall come: men will be lovers of self, covetous, boastful, haughty, blasphemous, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked; without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, cruel, unkind; traitors, headstrong, puffed up, and lovers of pleasure more than of God: having indeed an appearance of piety, but denying the power thereof; … always learning and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth. But as Jannes and Mambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth, men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall not advance further; for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs was also." (II. Timothy iii. 1 seq.)
VI.—Character of Pius IX.
All impartial men, Venerable and Beloved Brethren, who are acquainted with the mild and amiable character, and with the eventful and almost romantic history of our venerated and beloved Pius IX., will be slow to judge harshly of anything he has ever said, written, or done. Taken from the bosom of the people who so loved him, though himself of noble lineage, he was raised to the Pontificate amidst the acclamations of the people. He at once threw himself into their arms, and, first of all European sovereigns, he inaugurated free institutions far in advance of the times, as the event proved. He proclaimed a general Amnesty, brought back the political exiles, and, amidst the congratulations of Europe and America, he granted and proclaimed a liberal Constitution to his people, whose idol he at once became.
The scene soon changes, and what was so auspiciously begun and so generously granted, soon terminates disastrously, and the glory of the new Pontiff-King speedily sets in blood, not shed by him—for he never shed any one's blood—but shed by those very men, whose signal benefactor he had been, and who now, in return, repay his goodness with ungrateful treachery and bloody machinations against his throne and his very life. His prime minister is assassinated at the very opening of the chambers under the Constitution; the bloody dagger is paraded in triumph through the streets of the eternal city; the so lately idolized Pontiff is besieged in his own palace by a mob goaded to fury by the conspirators, and the ball, which was probably intended for him, strikes down at his side his amiable and learned private secretary. Dr. Palma; he escapes himself at length in disguise, and he becomes an exile at Gaeta, where the world loves and reverences him in his fallen fortunes, more even, perhaps, than it had done when he was dwelling in the splendid palaces of his Predecessors. His divine Lord and Master was insulted and crucified by the people among whom he had gone about doing good; and it was meet that the disciple should not be above the Master.
Restored at length to his See, amidst the acclamations of Christendom, he has for the last fifteen years been encompassed with difficulties such as had fallen to the lot of few among his Predecessors in modern times, of none probably, if we except the two Sainted men who bore his name—Pius VI. and Pius VII. Beset with political machinations from without and with conspiracies from within, he has been always like a lamb in the midst of wolves; a lamb in meekness, but a lion in courage. He has put his trust in God, and he has not been confounded. He has clothed himself with the armor of God, and he has proved invulnerable to all the fiery shafts of the evil one. With St. Paul he could say with truth: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty unto God, for the destruction of fortresses, destroying counsels, and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding to the obedience of Christ." (II. Corinthians, x. 4, seq. 9.) He has ever conquered, and he will yet conquer, by wielding only the sword of the spirit, which is the word of life. His words are even now far more powerful than the mighty weapons of his adversaries. He speaks in the name of Christ, and Christendom receives his words with reverence and with love; even his enemies are startled at their utterance, and they tremble amidst the clamorous indignation to which they give expression, apparently to drown their apprehensions. They seem to feel instinctively, that there is, after all, something mysteriously impressive, and approaching at once the sublime and the divine, in the declarations of that feeble old man who sits in the Vatican.
His warning against the errors of the times forcibly remind Us, Venerable and Beloved Brethren, of those uttered by the first Apostle Pontiff, whose Successor he is: "Even as there shall be among you false teachers, who will bring in sects of perdition, and denying the Lord who bought them, bring on themselves swift destruction; and many shall follow their excesses, through whom the way of truth shall be dishonored; and through covetousness, with feigned words, will make merchandize of you." (II. Peter, 11. 1 seq.) In the language of the same chief Apostle, his present Successor warns all the lovers of true liberty to be "as free, and not having liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as servants of God;" (II. Peter, ii., 16) and in that of the divine Master Himself: "And ye will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (St. John viii. 32).
VII. Temporal Power of the Pope.
It is not, indeed, an article of the Catholic faith that the Pope should be an earthly Sovereign; his Primacy is independent of his temporal power. His spiritual authority, derived from Christ through St. Peter, is divine and immortal, and it would be as much respected were he a persecuted exile, as have been many of his Predecessors, as it is while he occupies his normal position at the Vatican. Still his temporal Sovereignty, rendering him, as it does, independent of all other governments, is a most useful appendage to the Primacy, the free exercise of which it secures and guaranties; and it is, moreover, the most legitimate Sovereignty on the earth, created more than a thousand years ago on the spontaneous and urgent call of the people themselves, abandoned by the Greek emperors to the incursions of the Northern Barbarians. And any Catholic who would question the wisdom of this providential arrangement, which has proved so beneficial in the long lapse of ages, would be justly deemed guilty of imprudence and rashness; while those who would seek to disturb it by violence, would be subject to the anathema denounced against the violators of Church property. The fathers of our own country wisely ordained that the National Government should be located in a territory independent of State jurisdiction, thus imitating, in our political organization, the wise provision which God's Providence had already made, in order to secure the independent action of the central authority and general government of His Church.
If the Pontiff is so much embarrassed in his intercourse with the Catholic world, as it is, what would be his condition, were he the subject of any one among the European powers? Would Victor Emmanuel allow him free intercourse with Austria; would any Catholic government receive his communications, even on purely spiritual subjects, if made by him as the subject of a power with which it was at war? Would it, in this case, have been possible for him, for example, to issue the present Encyclical, or in fact, any other document of an official character, warning the faithful against the errors and immoralities of the age? Would he be permitted to tell unpalatable truths to his own Sovereign, or to any other? In ceasing to be an independent sovereign, he would become the veriest slave. He would be hampered and thwarted at every step, and the exercise of his Spiritual Primacy would become exceedingly difficult, if not wholly impossible. As it is, he has—or rather had—just territory enough to support him and his necessary officials modestly, according to his station; not enough to give him any preponderating influence in political affairs. He is, at the same time, the weakest and the most powerful Sovereign in Christendom; the weakest in physical force, the strongest in moral power.
VIII.—The Acceptable Time.
It behooves us. Venerable and Beloved Brethren, on this solemn occasion, to enter, with earnest and loving faith, into the sentiments of our beloved Chief Pastor, and to unite together in fervent supplications to God, that He may avert the storm which threatens His Church, stretching forth His all-mighty hand over the swelling waves which toss the bark of Peter, and bidding them be still!—"And we working together with Him, do exhort you, that yo receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith, in an acceptable time I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee. Behold! now is the acceptable time; behold! now is the day of salvation!" (II. Corinth., vi., 1 seq.) To borrow the language of the eloquent St. John Chrysostom, "prayer is the source, is the root, is the mother of countless blessings; the power of prayer extinguishes the flames, curbs the fury of lions, suspends wars, appeases combats, calms tempests, puts the demons to flight, opens the gates of heaven, breaks the bonds of death, cures diseases, drives away misfortunes, strengthens tottering cities, averts the scourges of heaven, and defeats the attacks of men; there are no evils which prayer does not dissipate."
IX.—Nature of Indulgences.
As you are already well informed. Venerable and Beloved Brethren, a Jubilee is the most ample form of Plenary Indulgence. You have also been fully instructed, that an Indulgence is a remission only of the temporal punishment, which often remains due to sin, after the guilt itself and the eternal punishment consequent upon it have been already remitted. It not only, then, is no pardon of sin, but it necessarily pre-supposes that the sin itself has been already pardoned, and, in this case only, can it take effect. Such being clearly the doctrine of the Catholic Church, we are not to heed the clamor of sectarians, who, either wholly misapprehending or grievously misstating our belief on this subject, pretend that an Indulgence is a license to commit sin, or at least an incentive to sin. Rather should we, during this holy season of prayer, pour forth earnest supplications to the Father of Lights, that He would vouchsafe to remove the scales from the eyes of those erring brethren, many of whom, through blindness and an evil education, seem always ready to believe everything but the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus.
An Indulgence can surely be no incentive to sin, since it can take no effect whatever in the soul until the sin has been previously forgiven, by the merits of the blood of Christ, applied through the sacrament of Penance. To obtain this forgiveness, the Catholic Church requires not only all the conditions which the sects usually assign, such as faith and sincere repentance; but, moreover, confession to a lawfully authorized minister of Christ, and some works of satisfaction and mortification, deriving their supernatural value and efficacy, for appeasing God's justice, from their union with the abounding merits and sufferings of Christ.
By denying this Catholic doctrine of satisfaction, which is the very basis of Indulgences; and the logical sequel to it,—that after the remission of sin, some temporal punishment often remains due to God's rigorous justice, to be undergone either in this world or in the expiating flames of Purgatory in the next,—our dissenting brethren really grant to their followers a standing plenary Indulgence of the most ample kind, and on the lightest possible conditions! If there be, then, any encouragement of sin, it is not certainly the Catholic Church, but the sects opposed to her, who are guilty of it, by removing from repentance all those things which are hardest to flesh and blood, and making the conditions of pardon so very light and easy.
X.—The Jewish and the Christian Jubilee.
A Jubilee is, as We have said, the most solemn and the most ample form of plenary Indulgence. It is an application to the soul of the truly contrite and already forgiven sinner of the most abundant treasures of the Church, based upon the unlimited power of the Keys and of binding and loosing, imparted by Christ to St. Peter and to his Successors in the Apostolic office. Only the generous and the fervent Christian can hope to share, to the full, in these exuberant riches of the divine mercy; but to such, the Jubilee is really, what its name implies, a season of gladness and of joy unspeakable. These fervent souls hear with exultation the words of the Lord: "Sound the trumpet, and proclaim remission to all the inhabitants of thy land; for it is the year of Jubilee." (Leviticus, xxv.)
Under the Mosaic dispensation, the Jubilee was celebrated with joyful and solemn observances every fiftieth year. The land lay fallow; the vines were left unpruned; and whatever grew spontaneously on the soil was held to be common to masters and servants, to strangers and natives, to animals and men. All debts were forgiven; those who had been compelled to sell or alienate their possessions were restored to their inheritance; the trammels of the bondsman were loosed, and he was permitted to return in joyful freedom to his family.
Such were the beneficent provisions made by God Himself for the Jewish Jubilee. They looked, indeed, mainly to the temporal order, but they were well calculated to wean the hearts of the chosen people of the olden time from the perishing things of this world, and to turn them to God, upon whose bountiful and never-failing Providence all were made wholly to depend for subsistence every fiftieth year. The Jewish life thus moved in cycles of fifty years; at the close of each of which, there was a solemn pause, or Sabbath—a year of rest and remission—during which all were to repose from their cares and labors, and to turn with their whole hearts to the Lord their God.
It was a beautiful dispensation; yet withal as inferior to ours, as is the type to the prototype, the shadow to the reality; or, in other words, as is Judaism, with its imposing "shadow of the good things to come," to the vivid, life-giving, and splendid realities of Christianity. The Christian Jubilee is the fulfilment and realization of the Jewish. Its provisions contemplate the spiritual order, the relations of man to God and to eternity. The freedom which it promises, is that from the galling bondage of sin, it is "the liberty of the glory of the children of God." The rich inheritance to which it offers to restore us, is that of God's super-abounding grace here on earth, and of His glorious and eternal Kingdom hereafter in heaven: where "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man (to conceive,) what good things God hath prepared for them that love Him." It causeth the exuberant soil of the Church spontaneously to germinate, and to produce in abundance the richest plants of virtue and holiness, for the healing of the nations. Truly, then, We repeat, "now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation." Two hundred millions of Christians, of all nations and peoples and tongues, united in prayer! Only the Catholic Church can present a spectacle so sublime as this!
The Christian Jubilee was originally estabished, with a view to its taking place every hundred years, at the commencement of the century. The Bull of Pope Boniface VIII., issued in 1300, appears to he the first authentic record of the Jubilee in its present form. The number of pious pilgrims, who, in that year, flocked to Rome to gain the Indulgence, appears almost incredible, in our cold, calculating age of Mammon-worship. During no part of that year, was the number of such pilgrims estimated at less than two hundred thousand.
To gratify the fervent piety of the faithful, the period was subsequently reduced to fifty years, in imitation of the Jewish Jubilee, by Pope Clement VI., towards the middle of the fourteenth century. This discipline continued for about a century—till the year 1450—the last occasion on which the fifty years' Jubilee was celebrated. Pope Paul II., stimulated by the ever-increasing devotion of the faithful, in a Bull issued in 1470, reduced the period to twenty-five years, a practice which has been maintained to the present day. In addition, however, to the stated Jubilees recurring every quarter of a century, subsequent Pontiffs have adopted the custom of publishing an extraordinary Jubilee on their accession to the chair of Peter, and on occasions of great public calamities, or of special exigencies of the times, which, in their judgment seemed to call for this union of prayers among the faithful throughout Christendom.
XI.—Our Immaculate Mother in Heaven.
It is not without significance, Venerable and Beloved Brethren, that the Encyclical Letters of the Holy Father were dated on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, and on the tenth anniversary of the solemn definition of this great privilege, which the pious belief of ages had awarded to Mary. Every believer in the divinity of Jesus, as God in the Flesh, and every one who loves Jesus, and dearly prizes the high honor of claiming Him as a Brother, must necessarily feel a tender filial reverence for His Mother, who, by the very fact of the Incarnation, becomes our Mother as well. Bequeathed to the Beloved Disciple as a Mother by Jesus, with his expiring breath, she is loved as such by all, who like John, seek to be the favorites of Jesus. It has been so from the very beginning of the Church; it will be so to the end of time. What a privilege to have a Mother in heaven; and so tender, so powerful, and so sweet a Mother! Christ, who denied her nothing on earth, will surely deny her nothing in heaven! Whatever we ask through Mary, with earnest and persevering faith, we shall most certainly obtain, if it be conducive to our salvation. Let us, then, during these days of benediction, implore her powerful intercession for ourselves, for those dear to us, and for the holy Church for which her Son died on the cross. Our faith and devotion should be stimulated by the fact, that she is the chosen Patroness of our beloved country, for the welfare and prosperity of which, both temporal and spiritual, she will not fail to raise her Immaculate hands before the throne of her divine Son. She is also the principal Patroness of this Archdiocese, and the first town of the Colony was called after her by our pious ancestors. She will not, cannot forget the land which bears her own sweet name.
XII. Conditions for Gaining the Jubilee Indulgence.
The Pontiff having authorized Us to designate any month within the year 1865, for obtaining the Indulgence of the present Jubilee, and having also made it Our duty to designate the Churches to be visited and other works to be performed, in accordance with his Bull issued November 20, 1846; We hereby appoint, for this Archdiocese, the month beginning on the first Sunday of Lent, March 5th, and ending on the Tuesday after Passion Sunday, April 4th, both these days being included. We also designate, as the Churches to be visited, the following: for Baltimore, the Cathedral, St. Vincent's, and St. Michael's; for Washington and emiəs, and in country places, where the Holy Sacrifice is usually offered up for the people., St. Patrick's, St. Matthew's and the Holy Trinity; for all the other portions of the Archdiocese, the parochial Church, or the Chapel in convents, colleges, acad
One visit to all the three Churches above named, or two visits to any one of them, or to one of the others mentioned above, with prayers offered up at each visit, according to the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff, "for some space of time," will be required as a condition for gaining the Indulgence. These intentions are: 1st, the preservation and protection of the Pontiff himself; 2d, the extension of the faith, and the prosperity of the Holy Catholic Church: 3d, the conversion of sinners and of those in error; 4th, peace among Christian princes, rulers, and peoples. No particular form of prayer is prescribed, but for those who cannot conveniently read the prayers indicated in the small Manual for the Jubilee, the fervent recitation of five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys will suffice. The other conditions for gaining the Indulgence are the following:—
1. A good confession and communion; but for children who have not made their first communion, and who cannot be conveniently prepared for it, a good confession with absolution will be sufficient.
Fasting on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of one week during the month assigned. Those who are unable to fast, may have this condition commuted by their confessor into some other good work.
3. The bestowal of some alms on the poor, "as each one's devotion may suggest." This condition may also be commuted by the confessor in favor of the poor, while in religious houses the superior may bestow the alms for the entire community, and in families parents for their children and servants.
It is Our wish, that the alms thus collected throughout the Archdiocese be divided by the respective Pastors into two equal parts, one of which he will apply to local charities, and the other he will remit to Our Secretary, to constitute the beginning of a fund for erecting a Diocesan Reformatory for Boys near Baltimore, a charity very much needed, if we would save our poor children, in body and in soul.
In favor of the sick, of travelers, of soldiers, of those in prison, and of all others legitimately prevented from complying with the conditions for gaining the Indulgence during the month above designated, We hereby extend the time to any period within the year 1865, which their Pastor or Spiritual Director may appoint.
And We also hereby authorize the Pastors of Churches outside the cities of Baltimore and Washington, to appoint any other month within the year than that above indicated, if, in their judgment, it would be for the spiritual benefit of their flock; provided, that for each such change, they have Our express approbation, that the appointed month do not interfere with the Retreat of the Clergy, which will open in Baltimore, at the Seminary of St. Sulpice, on the 16th of May, and that they do not select a time inconvenient to the people in the agricultural districts.
Those having care of souls will impress on their people the necessity of complying strictly with all the conditions for gaining the Indulgence; and they will also be careful to state that, while fasting for three days during Lent will suffice, the Paschal Communion, which is of strict obligation on all, will not fulfil the condition of the communion requisite for the Jubilee.
Pastors of the various congregations are requested so to arrange the particular time for the exercises in their respective Churches, as to be able to assist one another, so far as circumstances may permit. It is desirable, that these exercises, to be determined by each Pastor, should continue for at least one week in the larger congregations, and for three days in the smaller. A solemn mission will be opened in Our Cathedral on the second Sunday of Lent, and it will continue for two weeks, till the fourth Sunday inclusive.
This Pastoral Letter will be read in all the Churches on occasion of opening the Jubilee, or on the Sunday preceding, at the option of the Pastors.
And now. Venerable and Beloved Brethren, We commend Ourselves and this Archdiocese, to the government of which We have been called in the Providence of God, to your fervent prayers, during this season of grace and benediction.
The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
MARTIN JOHN SPALDING,
Archbishop of Baltimore
Thomas Foley, Secretary.