HOW TO DISTINGUISH CATHOLIC FROM LIBERAL WORKS"Neglect those precautions which prudence suggest does evil hates the light," said our Divine Lord. Iniquity works in obscurity. It is not difficult to discover an enemy, who comes to meet us in the broad daylight, not to recognize as Liberals those who frankly declare themselves to be such. But this sort of frankness is not ordinary to the Liberal sect. On the contrary it is usually very clever and cautious in concealing its real meaning in various disguises. We may add that often the eye that ought to discover the imposture is not the eye of a lynx. There should therefore, be some easy and popular criterion to distinguish, at every instant, the Catholic cry from the infernal birdcall of Liberalism.
It often happens that some project or enterprise is put on foot, some sort of a work is undertaken, whose bearings Catholics cannot promptly or easily apprehend. It may appear indifferent or even innocent enough, and yet it may have its roots in error, and be a mere artifice of the enemy flying our colors to allure us into an ambuscade. It may speak the language of charity, appealing to us from the tenderest (146) side, and ask us to associate ourselves with it in the name of a common humanity. "Sink all differences of creed and let us fraternize on the broader plane of brotherly love," is often its most insidious appeal. Such instances are arising every day of our lives. "Consult the Church," some may say, "its word is infallible and will dissipate all uncertainty." Very true, but the authority of the Church cannot be consulted at every moment and in every particular case. The Church has wisely laid down certain general principles for our guidance, but has left to the judgement and prudence of each of us the special application of these principles to the thousand and one concrete cases which we have to face every day. Now a case of this kind presents itself to be determined according to our own judgement and discretion. We are asked to give a contribution to such and such an undertaking, to join such and such a society, to take part in such and such an enterprise, to subscribe to such and such a journal, and all this may be for God or for the Devil, or what is worse, it may be evil cloaked in the garb of holy things. How shall we guide ourselves in such a labyrinth?
Here are two very practical rules, of ready service to a Catholic who is walking on slippery ground. (147)
1. Observe carefully what class of people are the projectors of the affair. Such is the first rule of prudence and common sense. It is based on that maxim of our Lord: A bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Liberalism is naturally bound to produce writings, works and deeds impregnated with the spirit of Liberalism, or at least tainted with it. Therefore must we carefully scrutinize the antecedents of the person or persons who organize or inaugurate the work in question. If they are such that you cannot have entire confidence in their doctrines, be on your guard against their enterprises. Do not disapprove immediately, for it is an axiom of theology that not all the works of infidels are sinful, and this axiom can be applied to the works of Liberals. But be careful not to take them immediately for good, mistrust them, submit them to examination, await their results.
2. Observe the kind of people who praise the work in question. This is even a surer rule than the preceding. There are in the world two perfectly distinct currents; the Catholic current and the Liberal current. The first is reflected for the most part by the Catholic press; the second is reflected by the Liberal press. Is a new book announced? Are the beginnings of a new (148) project published? See if the Liberal current approves, recommends and accounts them its own. If yes, the book and the project are judged: they belong to Liberalism. It is evident that Liberalism has inspired them, distinguishing immediately what is injurious or useful to it, for it is never such a fool as not to understand what is opposed to it or to be opposed to that which is favorable to it. The sects, religious or infidel, have an instinct, a particular intuition (olfactus mentis), as philosophers say, which reveals to them a priori what is good or what is bad for them. Repudiate then whatever Liberals praise or vaunt. It is evident that they have recognized by its nature or its origin, or as a means or as an end, something in the object so praised favorable to Liberalism. The clairvoyant instinct of the sect cannot deceive them. Certain scruples of Charity and their habit of thinking well of our neighbor sometimes blind good people to such an extent as to lead them to attribute good intentions, where unhappily they do not exist. This is not the case with falsifiers. They always send their shot right to the center, they never credit good intentions where there are none, or even where there are. They always beat the bassdrum in favor of all that (149) advances in any way their own nefarious propaganda. Discredit therefore what you see your known enemies proclaiming with hallelujahs. It seems to us that these two rules of common sense, which we can call rules of good Christian sense, suffice, if not to enable us to judge definitively every question, at least, to keep us from perpetually stumbling over the roughness of the uneven soil which we daily tread and where the combat is always taking place. The Catholic of the age should always bear in mind that the ground on which he walks is undermined in every direction by secret societies; that it is these who give the keynote to antiCatholic polemics; that unconsciously and very often these secret societies are served even by those who detest their infernal work. The actual strife is principally underground and against an invisible enemy, who rarely presents himself under his real device. He is to be scented rather than seen, to be divined by instinct rather than pointed out with the finger. A good scent and practical sense are more necessary here than subtle reasoning or labored theories. (150)