Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Monastic Life

1186. I would like to ask a few questions about monastic life.

You are welcome to ask any questions you please concerning any phase of Catholic doctrine or practice.

1187. Do you deny that monasticism appeals not only as a refuge for the spiritually minded, but also as an escape from the uncertainties of the times for those disinclined to face them?

It is possible that a man who knew little or nothing of what monastic life demands would think of it as an escape from such troubled prospects. But if he entered for such a reason, it would not be long before he would leave the monastery. If he did not, superiors themselves would give him no option, but would refuse to allow him to make his profession, and would dismiss him as having no vocation for monastic life.

1188. Is it not a haven for the disconsolate?

I am afraid not. The disconsolate need diversion, and monastic life is the last place in which to seek diversion. The vow of poverty means the renunciation of private and personal cash; the vow of chastity excludes the consolations of human affection; the vow of obedience curbs the indulgence of one's own sweet will. The discipline and silences from 5 a. m. until 10 at night, alternating between work, study, and regular spiritual exercises would develop into weariness and boredom in no time for one who entered without a high spiritual ideal, a strong will, and above all a happy and bright disposition. Melancholy, gloomy, depressed, and disconsolate people should never dream of monastic life. Probably their application to enter would not be considered; and if they did manage to enter, they would not last.

1189. Does not monasticism provide food and shelter for those indolents who would otherwise have to earn their living?

No. A man enters a monastery in order to live a spiritual life, renouncing the pleasures and possessions the world can offer. He will enter either in the capacity of a lay-brother, or with the intention of becoming a priest. Every moment of the day is mapped out for each class, whether in manual work or study. I myself was engaged in commercial life when I became a Catholic. It is over twenty years now since I entered monastic life; and from experience I can say that I have worked harder and much longer hours than ever I had to do for a boss in commercial life.Subjects who enter monasteries have a long probation before being admitted to permanent vows, and indolent applicants are soon discovered and dismissed as not suitable.

1190. In the Middle Ages the Church offered the cloistered life to men of culture and genius, leaving ignorant and coarser men to multiply.

The Catholic Church did not offer the prospect of a cloistered life only in the Middle Ages. From earliest times she has sanctioned celibacy and a single life for the love of Christ. Again, she has opened the doors of monastery and convent to all types. It is a mistake to think that those with little culture or education were denied the privilege. And it is also a mistake to think that all cultured and lofty-minded people entered religion. Plain rough men found a home in the cloister. Intellectual and cultured men more often than not remained in the world. But let us proceed.

1191. So the ferocious, rough, dull, and stupid were left to breed the Church's potential stock.

That is not so. Your statement implies that all cultured people entered the cloister, and that none but the rough and stupid remained in the outside world. I have shown you that all types were represented in the cloister whether as cultured priests and theologians or as humble lay-brothers. And all types also remained proportionately in the world. And always they were the few who felt called to the not ordinary life in the religious orders. Normally, and in all classes of society, the average man or woman remained amongst those who marry and are given in marriage.

1192. Was this policy deliberate? If not, the Church authorities could not have foreseen the results.

Don't mix up celibacy with any ideas of merely natural policy. The Catholic Church saw an ideal set by Christ and by the Lady Mother of Christ. She discerned the spirit of the Apostles. And when God's grace inspired individual Christians with the desire to consecrate themselves entirely to God, renouncing earthly affections and interests, she sanctioned their aspirations by instituting the religious orders and the cloistered life. Her sanction and encouragement were, of course, deliberate. Nor were those in authority fools. They were thinkers. And they did foresee the results. But the results were not as you imagine them to have been. Firstly, many of those who became cultured, refined, and highly endowed with learning, did so through the influence of the monastery they entered. They would not have done so had they remained in the environment from which they came. And the world benefited by the attainments their vocation alone made possible.Secondly, if you think that the Catholic sanction of celibacy must have such evil results, experience is against you. Remember that, by the very nature of things, the members of the religious orders, and the clergy of the Catholic Church at any given period must be the children of those who did not adopt celibacy. And if Catholic practice meant that the cream of mankind was entirely swept into the cloister leaving only the dull, stupid, rough, and uncultured to multiply, then a full thousand years of the policy ought to leave the Catholic Church utterly decadent and her present clergy brainless. Each generation should leave what you call her "potential flock" less fitted to produce intelligent subjects for her priesthood. Yet the Church has grown, according to the latest figures to 435 millions; never has she had so many priests; and I venture to say that the Church has never had a higher general standard of culture and learning amongst her clergy than at present.

1193. Did Christ, at any time prior to His public ministry, live in a monastery?

No. But He lived according to the conditions that are essential to monastic life by the observance of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Monasteries did not come into existence until long after the time of Christ. In the early Church many fervent Christians, inspired by the example of Christ, and desiring to imitate Him more closely voluntarily renounced this world's goods by choosing a life of poverty, abandoned all thought of human affection and marriage by vowing their 'lives to God alone in chastity, and tried to practice complete self-renunciation by a spirit of obedience to lawful authorities in the Church. Great numbers went off to live alone in remote places as hermits; and later on, for the sake of mutual edification and discipline, groups vowed to the same type of life began to form communities, and build common dwelling places called monasteries. It is literally true that the monasteries did not make the monks, but the monks made the monasteries. The inspiration of the desire of such complete consecration to Christ however was derived from the express invitation He gave to leave all things in orders to follow Him, and from the example He Himself set of perfect poverty, chastity, and obedience.

1194. When and why was the convent system instituted so that nuns could be shut away from the world?

From Apostolic times individual Christians renounced marriage and worldly interests, devoting themselves to purely spiritual things and the close imitation of Christ. At first they did this in their own homes. Finding it difficult in such surroundings, many of them became hermits, retiring into solitude to give themselves without distraction to prayer and meditation, together with manual work.In the third century St. Anthony in Egypt grouped a number of such hermits together who agreed to live a community life where all, having similar interests, would be of mutual assistance in serving God. Thus the first beginnings of monastic and convent life arose in the third century insofar as the mere grouping together of pious people is concerned. Why was the system instituted? To enable those drawn to such a life of prayer and virtue by God to find a suitable environment and to have the company and help of others similarly inclined. The nuns are not "shut away" from the outside world. Desiring to renounce the outside world, they leave it. To speak of nuns being shut away from the world suggests that it is against their will. If you decided to leave New Zealand in order to live in Australia, would you like people to ask you why you were banished from New Zealand?



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