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

Convent Life

1195. What constitutes a vocation to convent life?

The very essence of convent life lies in the total consecration of themselves to God on the part of those who enter upon it. Now it is the law that, to attach ourselves to God we must detach ourselves from things less than God. It is the rule that the more people love created things the less they will love God. The human heart is so limited that to concentrate its interest upon one object is to divert its interest from others. Now there are three quite natural loves which tend to divert us from the supernatural love of God. There is the love of earthly goods; the love of fellow human beings, and the love of self. To leave her soul free from such entanglements, therefore, the nun renounces earthly goods by the vow of poverty; all the human affections and passionate attachments of earthly love by the vow of chastity; all love of self and devotedness to self-interest by the vow of obedience. But this liberation of the soul is only that the soul may give itself entirely to God, and live for Him alone.A vocation to convent life is therefore a call to abandon earthly interests in property, human affections, and self-will, and to consecrate oneself completely to God, and to a spiritual life.

1196. How does one know that one has such a vocation?

One may have a good probable sign by the special influences of God's grace, giving a growing interior appreciation of the vanity of all earthly and temporal things, together with an increasing desire to seek holiness and virtue, and to love God alone. But even without this special personal experience, the Church says that any Catholic girl who can comply with the conditions of admission laid down by the rules of convent life may apply for admission provided she believes that she can serve God better in religious life than in a worldly and secular career. Our Lord offered, not a special, but a general invitation to otherwise ordinary people when He said. "If anyone wishes to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me."So, from her point of view, it really depends on the average Catholic girl herself as to whether she will decide to enter the convent or not. But, of course, a girl must not only be willing to enter a convent. The convent authorities must be willing to accept her. The Superiors always retain the right, therefore, to decide as to who are suitable, and who are unsuitable for admission to their particular order.

1197. Poor innocent nuns should not be kept cooped up in convents, entering without knowing what is before them.

It would be wrong to lock up innocent women in convents against their will - and also if they did not know what was before them. But that is not the case with convents. Every girl in the convent has begged the sisters to allow her to enter with them. Every girl who is accepted is obliged to undergo a preparatory stage without any vows for some six months, and then another twelve months' novitiate. During those eighteen months without vows, she is told of all the obligations of religious life; she follows the rule, and if she finds it too hard, is free to leave at any time without notice. At the end of the eighteen months she is asked whether she would like to go or make her vows and stay. If she says she wants to stay, she is allowed to take vows for three years only. At the end of three years those vows expire and she is perfectly free to say she has had enough.But the best thing you could do would be to call at any convent, ask to see one of the sisters, and have a talk with her.

1198. Different non-Catholics have asked me why nuns wear a ring on the marriage finger.

The ring, as an unbroken circle, has ever been the symbol of unbroken fidelity. When a woman marries, the wedding ring signifies that she has vowed absolute and permanent fidelity to her husband. Now the nun also vows absolute and permanent fidelity, but not to any merely human being. She rises above all earthly planes, and consecrates herself entirely to God in a spiritual union of soul with Him. And for the purposes of this union, she follows the advice of Christ by renouncing earthly goods, earthly affections, and self will. So she vows absolute and permanent fidelity to a spirit of poverty and detachment; to the most perfect purity and chastity; and to obedience to lawful superiors according to the will of God. These vows of absolute and permanent fidelity are symbolized by the ring in her vocation, just as fidelity is symbolized by the ring in marriage. The fidelity should be the same in both cases, however different may be the two states in life.

1199. Who puts the ring on the nun's finger?

Whoever presides at the ceremony of Profession. The Church is the visible representative of Christ in this world, and those who desire an official sanction of their consecration to Him must apply to the Church. When the time comes for her religious profession, therefore, the nun assists at Mass, receives Holy Communion, makes her vows, and receives from the bishop the ring as a symbol of fidelity to her consecration to Christ.

1200. What is the life and work of a nun?

Her life is one of consecration to God by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Covetousness, lust, and pride are three of the greatest forces dragging human beings from God. The soul that would approach God must learn to detach itself from earthly goods, and affections, and self will. A Catholic girl who is spiritually inclined, and whose love of God steadily develops under the influence of divine grace, may quite well feel the desire to consecrate herself entirely to God, and permanently, by entering the convent, and binding herself by vows not to seek earthly possessions, sensual pleasures, or the proud independence which multitudes prize. As a nun, therefore, she is vowed to poverty, chastity, and obedience; and within the convent finds her life regulated by the rule directing her daily activities from 5 a. m. until 10 p. m. That rule consists of alternating prayer, work, and community recreations. The work of a nun will depend upon the particular order she enters. It may consist in teaching duties, or in nursing, or in the care of orphanages, or in the management of charitable institutions for the deaf and dumb, or for incurable invalids, or for the aged; or again, they may go off to labor in the foreign missions; in fact their duties may consist in almost any of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.

1201. Nuns could do far more for humanity out amongst people than shut away in convents.

Firstly, the vast majority of nuns are engaged in teaching duties, nursing, caring for orphans, the aged, and the dying. In these activities they do an immense work for the human race. The time left over from these duties they give to prayer and the service of God, instead of giving their leisure time to dances, theatres, worldly amusements and self-satisfaction. There are some orders, very few, which devote themselves almost wholly to prayer and the worship of God.Now, if we are Christians, we believe in prayer. St. James says "Pray for one another that you may be saved." Indeed prayer is one of the greatest forces in this world. Tennyson rightly said "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." Think of Abraham's prayer for Sodom and how God heard his constant plea for mercy on easier conditions. The Bible teems with instances, and I maintain that you can scarcely do a human being a greater service than to pray sincerely for him. Our Lord Himself gives the instance of Martha and Mary, Martha very busy attending to temporal needs, and complaining that Mary was not helping. Yet Jesus said "Martha, thou art troubled about many things, yet Mary hath chosen the better part."No. I do not think a nun could do more for the human race than by praying for those fellow human beings who are so forgetful of prayer themselves.

1202. I cannot find anywhere in Scripture where Christ instituted the position of nuns.

It is quite certain that Christ sanctioned the life adopted by nuns. You will admit that He taught the necessity of prayer and of works of mercy. You cannot say that the agreement of the nuns to dwell together in community is opposed to the will of Christ. Two points only could worry you. The first is, whether it is right for a girl to renounce marriage in order to give herself entirely to heavenly aspirations and spiritual things; and secondly, whether it is right for her to abandon even her own father and mother and home in order to do so. Now Christ commended both these things. In St. Math. XIX., 12, Jesus says that there are some who render marriage impossible to themselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. And He adds, "Let him who can do this, do it," declaring that it is a gift of God to them which enables them to do it. In the same chapter, V., 29, Christ says, "Everyone that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, etc., for My name's sake shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." Now the nuns have made marriage impossible to themselves by vow, and have left home, brethren, sisters, father and mother for the love of Christ. And He promises them a blessing for doing so.

1203. Which is the nobler state in life, religious life as a nun, or marriage?

One who chooses the religious life by entering the convent chooses a higher state in life than another who chooses marriage. This is evident from both the conduct and teaching of Jesus and of the Apostles. Jesus was born of a Virgin Mother, and Himself abstained from marriage. The precursor, St. John the Baptist, also refrained from contracting marriage. St. Paul says clearly, "The unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband." 1 Cor. VII., 34. St. Paul, therefore, counsels virginity and abstention from marriage for spiritual reasons as being the nobler and loftier state. Jesus Himself said, "If thou wilt be perfect, sell what thou hast, give to the poor, and come, follow Me." One who enters religious life renounces this world's goods by a vow of poverty; bodily pleasures by the vow of chastity; and proud independence by the vow of obedience. The soul is nobler than the body, and a life devoted to the good of the soul is nobler than a life which at least includes much attention to bodily interests. Human beings are like the Angels in their souls, but like the animals in their bodies. And that state which seeks affinity with the Angels rather than with inferior animals is certainly the loftier. As I have said, however, apart from these reasons, it is clear from Scripture that the state of virginity for the love of God is better than marriage, and the one who chooses religious life rather than marriage makes the higher choice.



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