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quieu, who cannot be suspected of partiality to the Church, well remarks that the Catholic religion, which was established to provide for man's happiness in the life to come, in reality succeeds better than any other institution in contributing to his happiness even in this life.
The Church declares sinful the wanton destruction of human life in any stage of its existence. She pleads for the life of the yet unborn infant, whether assailed by the mother to hide her shame; or by the physician, who wishes to sacrifice the life of the child, to save the mother. She denounces abortion not only as an inhuman act, but as murder. In the penitential discipline of the Church, abortion was visited with the same penalties as infanticide. In the Council of Ancyra, the guilty mother was excluded from the Sacraments till the hour of death; and according to the present discipline of the Church, absolution from the crime of procuring abortion, is always reserved to the Bishop of the diocese.
From the earliest days of Christianity, the custom was established of taking up on Sunday after Communion, a collection among the faithful in behalf of "orphans, widows, the sick, the needy, those who are in chains, pilgrims, and all the indigent of the flock.” 1
At the breaking out of the Decian Persecution, A. D. 249, the Church supported more than fifteen hundred widows, poor, and suffering persons in
*St. Justin, Apology to Antoninus Pius.
Rome. As soon as liberty was restored, institutions of charity, unknown to Paganism, sprang up throughout the Roman Empire.
Fabiola, a Roman lady, founded a hospital in Rome in the fourth century. St. Basil established in Cæsarea a great hospital, and also an asylum for lepers. The Council of Nice directed that Xenodochia, or asylums for indigent pilgrims, should be erected in every city. When St. Chrysostom ruled the church of Antioch, that city supported three thousand poor widows and maids, besides caring for the sick. St. Ephrem founded and superintended a hospital at Edessa. The monk Thalaleseus organized an asylum for the blind on the banks of the Euphrates. So conspicuous were the charities of the Church to friend and to foe that Julian the Apostate, in his letter to Arcacius, avows that it is shameful that “the Galileans," as he called the Christians, should support not only their own, but also the
The Hotel Dieu of Paris, the finest and most capacious hospital in the world, was founded in the seventh century; and the erection of the Hotel Dieu of Lyons is ascribed to Childebert, the son of Clovis, the first Christian king of France. As early as the ninth century, Rome had not fewer than nine hospitals.
In the next chapter we shall see that the Christians of our own times are emulating the zeal of the early disciples in works of charity, particularly in organized systems of benevolence,
1 Erisebius VI., 43.
BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS FOUNDED AND
FOSTERED BY CHRISTIANITY
IN MODERN TIMES.
There is no phase of human misery and affliction for which the Catholic religion does not provide some antidote, some alleviations. She has Foundling Asylums to receive and shelter helpless infants that are either abandoned by unnatural mothers, or bereft of their parents before they knew a mother's love. These unconscious victims of sin or misery are rescued from spiritual and temporal death by consecrated virgins, who become their nursing mothers.
As the Church provides homes for those yet on the threshold of life, so too does she secure Retreats for those on the threshold of death. She has asylums in which the aged, men and women, find at one and the same time a refuge in their old age from the storms of life, and a novitiate to prepare them for eternity. Thus from the cradle to the grave she is a nursing mother. She rocks her children in the cradle of infancy, and she soothes them to rest on the couch of death.
Louis XIV. erected in Paris the famous Hótel des Invalides for the veteran soldiers of France who had fought in the service of their country. And so has Religion provided for those that have been disabled in the battle of life, a home in which they are tenderly nursed in their declining years by devoted Sisters.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, whose Congregation was founded in 1840, have now charge of two hundred and fifty establishments in different parts of the globe; the aged inmates of those houses numbering thirty thousand, upwards of seventy thousand having died while under their care, up to 1889.
To these asylums are welcomed not only the members of the Catholic religion, but those also of every form of Christian faith, and even those without any faith at all.
faith at all. The Sisters make no distinction of persons or nationality or color or creed; for true charity embraces all. The only question proposed by the Sisters to the applicant for shelter, is this : Are you oppressed by age and penury ? If so, come to us and we will provide for you.
Mr. Lecky' and other distinguished writers have asserted that some forms of Catholic charity, though dictated by most praiseworthy motives, have a pernicious tendency to encourage idleness and increase poverty whilst attempting to relieve the latter; and that the most effectual way to suppress it, is to foster trade and commerce along with habits of industry.
2 Europ. Morals, Vol. II., 93 et seq.
It cannot be denied that great abuses often arise from indiscriminate mendicancy and that it should be kept within certain bounds. Promiscuous almsgiving is not always charity. Instead of supplying a real want, it often ministers to the passions of the unworthy applicant. The sturdy man who habitually begs instead of working for a livelihood, is justly open to suspicion. He loses self-respect, imposes on the charitable public, and defrauds the deserving poor. He is a drone in the social beehive. Unlike the steward in the Gospel, who said : “To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed," he is able to dig and not ashamed to beg.
This language coming from a Christian prelate may appear unfeeling. But I believe that genuine charity is best promoted by exposing and discountenancing the pernicious counterfeit.
Everyone will admit that habits of industry should be encouraged; and that the best way to serve the poor man, is to put him on his feet.
But after exhausting all his resources for the extinction of poverty, the political economist will still be confronted by it, and he will realize the truth of our Saviour's words: “The poor ye have always with you.” You can no more legislate
. penury than you can legislate vice out of existence. In the hard struggle of life, especially in great centres, there will always be found willing hands that cannot get employment. Some are impoverished by
3. Matt. XXVI., 11.