St. Elizabeth1 -- By: John P. Lacroix
BSac 30:118 (April 1873) p. 209
The age we live in is not fond of saints. It is too self-conscious for that. It is so bedazzled with the glories of the great present as to be but blear-eyed for the shining places of the past. And it is too intensely democratic to be very apt in perceiving the exceptional worth of any that break in upon the monotony of its own dead-level. It scarcely even believes in saints at all. At least, so far as it believes in them, it is not in saints of the stumbling past, nor of the working present, but only of a certain ill-defined, longed-for future. And the church, in its vital (Protestant) phase, is similarly disposed. It has so vehemently protested against its former (Catholic) self as to have damaged its sense for history — as to have obscured its consciousness of the continuity of its own self-development. Having too largely isolated itself from its past, it is in no slight danger of super-self-exaltation; that is, in view of the unquestionably great work yet before it, and in forgetfulness of the fact that it is itself simply a fruit of its own much-disdained past,—simply a single link in the great chain of divine, world-regenerative influence, handing to the future the good it receives from
BSac 30:118 (April 1873) p. 210
the long past, augmented by the (exceptionally great, it may be) momentum of one additional factor, — it is in danger, in each present generation, of exalting its mission above measure, and of losing sight of its simply coordinate relation to the generations of the past, into whose accumulative fruit it has in its turn entered. And this tendency involves not merely the danger of a temptation, but also the actuality of injustice and ingratitude. If the extensive Christian activity of the present generation should result in the ushering in of millennial time, it would, in fact, not be simply we who should have been instrumental in this great work; but this work would be the composite result of the accumulative Christian development of all the ages of the past plus the increment of one generation.
Bat the whole Protestant church is not guilty of this characteristic sin of inexperienced youth. And the revival of an interest in sound historical criticism, now so extensively prevalent, will do much toward awakening the whole church both to its obligations to, and to the instruction it may derive from, its own past. And precisely here will be one of the happiest results of this form of study, namely, not merely that abstract justice will be done to the past, but also that the church itself will rise out of the sin of historical injustice — that it will be brought to a thorough consciousness of the truth t...
Click here to subscribe