Thursday, August 31, 2006

We Catholics, It Seems, Can Never Please Our Critics

I love these two quotations:
The attitude of our non-Catholic friends towards the Catholic saints; they always contrive to discredit, in one of two ways, their witness to the faith. Either they will say: "This was a very unpleasant, narrow-minded man, of ridiculous personal habits; and if that is what saints are like we would sooner hear no more of them", or they will say: "Yes, this man was indeed a saint; but then he was not really a Roman Catholic. He was just a good Christian, as I and my wife are; he only happened to be in communion with the Pope because everybody was in those days."

(Ronald Knox, Occasional Sermons, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1960, 115-116)

We cannot please our opponents. If we fast and give alms; if we crucify our flesh, and make pilgrimages and perform other works of penance, we are accused of clinging to the rags of dead works, instead of "holding on to Jesus" by faith. If, on the other hand, we enrich our souls with the treasures of Indulgences we are charged with relying on the vicarious merits of others and of lightening too much the salutary burden of the cross. But how can Protestants consistently find fault with the Church for mitigating the austerities of penance, since their own fundamental principle rests on faith alone without good works?

(James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, revised edition, 1917, 311)

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