More From the Treasure Chest: “Cannot” Part II

A few days ago, I found an essay written by Father George Bampfield entitled “Cannot”. I posted the first part of it here. This post today is the rest of the essay.

I feel compelled to share the rest of it with you for a good reason. From some of the comments to the first post, comments which I didn’t publish, it is obvious that some of you don’t realize that many passages in the Bible are taken literally by the Catholic Church.

In fact, every Bible passage referred to here by Father Bampfield is the scriptural basis for the Catholic Church’s teachings on each of the positions he writes about in this essay.

To be sure, the teachings are more fully developed and fortified by Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church. But to believe that the Catholic Church doesn’t believe in any of the Scriptures as being able to be taken literally is, quite frankly, nonsense.

So here is the rest of the essay, with further examples from both the New Testament and the Old, from the Gospels and the apostolic letters. It gets really good when the narrator (in bold) moderates a debate between Father Flanagan, whom I picture as Alec Guinness’ character Father Brown (in the photo here), and the representatives of the various other Christian denominations.

“Cannot” is still the operative word here, and Father Flanagan does a much better job than I can explaining why that word doesn’t compute.

A word of warning(really more of an FYI), this is long, but simple to follow. You just might want to grab a snack now. Otherwise, we pick up where we left off—

Once more the Protestant flies from the simple sense of God’s word ; and once more with the same cry of “cannot.”

“How can this man,” say they “give us His Flesh to eat?” just as before they said, “Who can forgive sins but God only ?” And once more the priest flies not from the clear simple sense, but answers, “What God says, God means ; and if it is hard, remember that with God there is no ” cannot.”

Hitherto the Catholics have been the straightforward people. ‘You get from them a plain meaning for a plain text. It may be a deep text, and then you get a deep meaning ; but for all its depth it is clear and plain. The sense sticks close to the words. ” White ” does not mean ” black,” and ” black ” does not mean ” white.” Now, Protestants always seem to me trying to make out that ” black ” in the Bible means ” a little white,” and that ” white” in the Bible means “just a trifle black.”

You think it very shocking of me to say such things? Well! let us try both parties with a few more texts.

Our Lord said to Simon the son of Jonas, “Thou art Peter ;” and the word “Peter” certainly means “a rock” He promised him this name from the very beginning (St. John i. 42); He gave it him solemnly in presence of the other Apostles (St. Matthew xvi. 18). Now, certainly this sentence is a very simple one. “Thou art a rock” is clear and plain; and plain men, who are not afraid of the Bible, would take it to mean that St. Peter really is a rock.

Very clear and plain also are the words following : “Upon this rock I will build My Church;” plain men would in their child-like way suppose that Our Lord really did build His Church upon St. Peter.

Plain also are the words that follow : “The gates of hell,” that is the power of hell, “shall not prevail against it.” Plain men would suppose them to mean that, the Church being founded upon S. Peter, the power of hell has not prevailed, and does not prevail against it.

Now let us get some Catholic priest—it does not matter where you take him from, somehow or other they all of them always tell the same story, and the stupidest of them seems as clever in these matters as the cleverest—and put him side by side with a gentleman from St. Paul’s Cathedral, another from the City Temple, a third from the Tabernacle, a fourth from Lady Huntingdon’s miscellaneous college at Cheshunt, and as many more as you like from anywhere else, and let them talk about this text. Father Flanagan shall begin.

Fr. Flanagan: It is the plainest text in the world. Our Lord said to Simon, “Thou art a rock” and he became a rock.

St. Paul’s: Not more than the other Apostles : “the Church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.” (Eph. ii. 20.)

Fr. Flanagan: Well then Our Lord would have called them all Peter. He does not. He says “Thou” not “Ye;” and when Our Lord says, “Thou” and speaks to one man, I take Him to mean “Thou.”

The Tabernacle: I say St. Peter was no more a rock than the rest of us. We are all “lively stones.” (I. St. Peter, ii. 5.)

Fr. Flanagan: Our Lord by solemnly giving him the name says that he is a rock more than the rest of us. He does not speak to all of us, but only to Simon son of Jonas. Else the giving of the name means nothing; it is made of “none effect.”

Here at all events the priest seems to stick closer to the words than the others. “Thou art a rock” is not the same as “you twelve are rocks,” or as “everybody is a rock.”

But pray Fr. Flanagan, what do you think Our Lord meant by calling Simon a rock? How is he a rock ?

Fr. Flanagan: It is all so simple and straightforward, I can’t see any difficulty. Our Lord compares His Church to a house which He is going to build. Now “a house built upon a rock does not fall” (St. Matt. vii. 25.), because a rock is not shaken by the wind or storm. Our Lord therefore, before building, prepares a rock to build upon. The rock was Simon the son of Jonas.

Yes! But what is meant by the “rock ?” In what way could Simon the son of Jonas be the rock not shaken by wind or storm?

Fr. Flanagan: By being an infallible teacher of the truth. The rock of the Church is a teacher sent from God who cannot blunder. The power of hell on earth has been “lying,” from the time that Satan lied to Eve about the fruit. But if a teacher of truth cannot be taken in by lies, and cannot lie himself, lying cannot prevail against him. He is as little to be moved as a rock, and the Church or society which listens to his voice is safe, so long as it listens.

City Temple: Christ Himself is that teacher sent from, God. He is the rock on which the Church is built, and “other foundation can no man lay.” You are honouring Peter that you may dishonour Christ.

Fr. Flanagan: God forbid! Christ Himself is certainly the Rock, the foundation of the Church; of this I am as certain as you; yet you have just yourself told me, one of you that we are all “lively stones,” another that the Church is “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.” How can Christ be the foundation and the Apostles a foundation also? In the same way Christ is the “light of the world;” yet He Himself says to the Apostles, “Ye are the light of the world.” If Our Lord is ” the light,” and yet the Apostles can be “the light” also, I suppose Our Lord can be “the rock,” yet St. Peter a rock also.

The difference of course is that Our Lord is the rock by His own strength, St. Peter not by his own strength, but by the strength which God gives him. Christ was the light of the world by teaching His own truth through His own power; the Apostles were also the light of the world by teaching their Master’s truth through their Master’s power. So Christ is the rock on which the Church is built, because He is by His own power the infallible teacher of truth; Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, because he is by Christ’s power the infallible teacher of truth till the world’s end. Against Christ “error,” which is the power of hell, could not prevail, because He is God; against Peter “error” cannot prevail, because he is sent by God and taught by God.

Christ is the unseen rock in Heaven, Peter the seen rock on earth, who leans upon Christ, and so leaning is able to bear up the Church. In other words, Christ taught the truth infallibly while on earth; when He went away from earth He no longer spoke to us with His own human lips; He chose therefore other human lips through which He might speak; the lips He chose were those of Peter. He gave him the power to teach truth without blunder; and, through Peter, Christ teaches us till the end of time. The words therefore of Our Blessed Lord mean as follows—” Thou art a teacher whom I will keep infallible; on thy teaching guided by Me I will build my Church, and false teaching shall never prevail against thee, so as to make thee teach error for My truth.”

What do you mean by saying that Christ teaches through Peter till the end of time? Peter is dead.

Fr. Flanagan: “The King is dead—Long live the King.” Peter himself is reigning with his Master. But Peter’s office is not dead, his Church is not dead, his Bishopric is not dead. Many Churches founded by Apostles have died and passed away. Many Bishoprics have been removed ; St. Peter’s Bishopric has not been removed. Just as, when a king dies, his kingly power goes down to his son, so when Peter died, his power of teaching without error went down to the Bishops who came after him, even to our present Pope Leo XIII. who now sits in Peter’s chair, and speaks with Peter’s power not to err. If it were not so, if it was only to Peter himself, not to the Popes who came after him, that the promise was made, then the Church would hardly be founded on a rock. St. Peter would die, the rock would be removed, and the Church might fall.

I think this is one of your deep texts with a deep meaning, and terribly long you have been about giving it. Still the priest’s sense, deep as it is, sticks close to its words. Now let us see. You said that Peter was and is really a rock?

Fr. Flanagan: Most certainly. Christ took him into a share of His own office of rock of the Church.

And you, Reverend sirs?

St. Paul’s: Well! It is a difficult text. Yes: a rock, certainly a rock; a rock, probably my dissenting brethren will agree with me, a rock by character: St. Peter was a firm-minded strong man.

Fr. Flanagan: For many reasons this will not do.

1. In all other cases in which God Himself gives a name, the name describes not the character but an office. With Abraham and Sarah and Joshua and the Holy Name Jesus, it is so.

2. It is not likely that Our Lord should have solemnly given and made such a point of a name which merely described a man’s character.

3. It is not true of Peter’s character. He went to walk on the waves and sank; he was scandalized at the thought of the Crucifixion; he slept during the Agony; he denied his Master with oaths: naturally he was surely not a rock in character.

You say that on St. Peter Our Lord built His Church ?

Fr. Flanagan: Most certainly.

And you, Reverend sirs?

St. Paul’s: Well no! not on St. Peter. On Himself, or on the Truth.

But He Himself says upon St. Peter: He does not here say on Himself or on the Truth.

St. Paul’s: Well, but this must be the meaning of it. Otherwise Popery would be true, and Popery, you know, is not true.

You say also that the power of hell, that is, error, does not prevail against the Church because it is built upon St. Peter’s See of Rome, and St. Peter is the rock?

Fr. Flanagan. Certainly.

And you, Reverend sirs?

St. Pauls: -Oh ! that cannot be right. Of course error did prevail against St. Peter’s See of Rome. Rome became terribly corrupt.

Who then has the truth?

St. Pauls: Well! nobody exactly has the whole truth. Every sect has got something wrong: each of them teaches some truths and some errors.

It seems to me, then, that the power of hell has prevailed very fearfully. The Church has been built upon sand. Lies and truth are taught together; and the truth with no mixture of falsehood which Jesus taught is gone. The priest’s sense is surely deeper, more honourable to God, and at the same time simpler and nearer to the words. Father Flanagan, I am your convert. You are a better Bible Christian than the others.

Our Protestant friends will again give their reason “Cannot” for thinking St. Peter not to have been really a “rock.” A sinful man, they say, a rock! An erring human creature like ourselves an infallible teacher! Impossible! God cannot make a man infallible. At least, not in 1885. It is true that the writers of Scripture were infallible, but that was long ago.

Long ago! Has God grown old and feeble? He cannot do now what He could do before! He could make Isaiah infallible, perchance even St. Peter himself, but not Leo XIII. Not amidst gas, and electricity and steam, and Armstrong cannons, and Schneider rifles and big telescopes, and daily discovery of wonderful bones—the thing is impossible.

God is and will be as He was—says the Catholic—the same today as yesterday. He, who kept erring man infallible of old, keeps him infallible still ; He does not change ; He loses neither strength nor love. Certainly the Catholic opinion sticks close to the Scriptures and close to common sense also. It is neither Scripture nor common sense to think that God has changed, and does not deal with men as he used to deal.
5. Let us try another text or two. Here, Father Flanagan, is a text from St. James : “Is any one sick among you ?” it says, “let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” You Catholics take this text in its plain meaning, do you not?

Fr. Flanagan: Of course we do. We take every text to mean what it says. What would be the good of texts if they did not? When we are sick, we send for the elders and they pray over us, anointing us with oil.

And you, Reverend sirs?

St. Paul’s: We have no such custom. St. James, you see, wrote of a custom existing in his days; suitable for hot countries and those times; it would not do now.

Fr. Flanagan: Then these words are of “none effect.” They are no use in these days except to puzzle plain people. St. James certainly does not say anything about hot countries. India is hot enough for most people; would my reverend brethren anoint there? It seems to me that a good deal of Scripture might be got rid of in this way, if we may say of any thing we please that it is not for our time or our climate. What makes you think that St. James spoke only for his own day and not for all times?

St. Pauls: Well! there is nothing exactly in the Scripture about hot countries and his own times; but you see we don’t do it, and of course we should do it, if it was right. Besides what is the use of it ?

The Tabernacle: We Baptists used to anoint the sick at one time:—Kiffin did it; but we have left it off now; it is probably a thing we may do or not do just as we please. But I don’t see the use of it myself.

Fr. Flanagan: St. James very clearly tells us the two uses; healing for the body, forgiveness of sins for the soul: “The prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

The Tabernacle: A drop of oil cure the sick! It cannot be.

City Temple: A drop of oil forgive sins! It cannot be.

Fr. Flanagan: Cannot again! What cannot God do? Does not St. Mark tell us that many that were sick were anointed with oil and healed ? (St. Mark vi. 13.)

The Tabernacle: Oh! but that was in Apostolic times.

Fr. Flanagan: Apostolic times! And is not God alive now? What He could do in Apostolic times, He cannot do for us, and in these days!

City Temple: But forgive sins! Through oil !

Fr. Flanagan: Through these stones if He pleased. The question is what He does please; and these words very clearly say that He pleases to forgive sins to the sick through prayer and the anointing with oil.

It is very odd. Here we are getting a great number of texts on all of which the priest is plain and straightforward, and talks common sense; while, with all respect to our good Protestant brethren, they seem just a trine given to shuffling, and putting inconvenient texts on the shelf. I fancy that if Fr. Flanagan was to take to Bible-burning, there would be a text or two which he would pick out of the flames. Clearly “anointing with oil” is a different thing from-”not anointing with oil;”and leaving off what the Apostles order in the Scriptures is not so Scriptural as doing what the Apostles order in the Scriptures. Father Flanagan, you bad Bible-burning priest, I give it for you again; you are the best Bible Christian of them all. Have you any other text to discuss with St. Paul’s ?
6. Fr. Flanagan: Well! To myself it seems that from Genesis to Revelations—from cover to cover—the Protestants are all wrong about every text altogether; but I suppose this will be thought a wild Irish thing to say, so I will pick you out another verse or two. It shall be about one or two troublesome little things that we do, and you do not. For instance, in St. Matt. xix. 21, Our Blessed Lord certainly says to the rich young man, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor.” Now, in the first place, you do not, I think, in any Protestant body, talk about being perfect. You do not preach sermons about perfection, as distinct from simply “keeping the commandments from your youth up.” (Verse 20).

St. Paul’s: Well no! it would be an indiscreet subject. Men’s works are worth very little. The best of us are unprofitable servants. What can a man do more than keep the commandments ? We certainly do not talk of perfection.

Fr. Flanagan: But you see Our Lord does talk of perfection, and while both of us claim to follow Our Lord, you Protestants do not talk of perfection, and we Catholics do. We say that keeping the commandments is one thing, being perfect is a higher and better thing—and this is what Our Lord says. Which of us so far agree with God and the Scriptures?

St. Paul’s: Certainly Our Lord does speak of perfection here.

Fr. Flanagan: Yes; and He says that selling all that we have is not part of the commandments, but part of being perfect. Now is it at all a custom among you in the Cathedral, the Tabernacle, or the City Temple, to sell all that you have and give to the poor?

St. Paul’s: We are charitable to the poor, I am sure. There is always somebody at me for a guinea to a ragged school here, and a soup kitchen there, and I am Governor myself of a score of hospitals, and asylums, and institutions to meet every evil under the sun. But I don’t know about selling all that I have. I never heard of anybody exactly doing it. My wife would think it injudicious, and I don’t think I could advise any young man to do quite as much as that. It seems to me one of those passages in Scripture that were not meant to be taken too literally.

The Tabernacle: A difficult passage. We have great charities. The orphanage at Stockwell is a noble thing.

Fr. Flanagan: A noble thing, I grant you, nobly planned, and founded by noble charity. But it is not selling all that you have ?

The Tabernacle: It is not. But is this Scripture to be taken literally ? Do you sell all that you have?

Fr. Flanagan: Certainly those who aim at perfection do. Every day rich men and rich women sell all that they have and give to the poor.

The Tabernacle: And what do they do then ?

Fr. Flanagan: Follow Him. Enter convents and monasteries, or the priesthood, and follow His life of poverty, and fasting, and hardship.

The Tabernacle: Oh! convents and monasteries! Cracow, Prague, Belgium, and Hull(ed. know for abuses in the past)!

Fr. Flanagan: Rubbish. Come, come, stick to the point. Our Blessed Lord tells you, if you want to be perfect sell all that you have and give to the poor. Do any of you do this thing ? Yes or no ?

S. Paul’s: Honestly we do not.

The Tabernacle: We do not.

City Temple: We do not.

Fr. Flanagan: We do. Which of us is Scriptural ?

I will only take two things more, for we must not talk over every doctrine and every text of Scripture. It would take two or three life-times. Here is another point very much like the last. Our Lord tells us in very strong language that there are “eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake.”

Father Flanagan how understand you this?

Fr. Flanagan: I understand our Blessed Lord to say that it is good not to marry for God’s sake. He says that it is not given to all men to remain unmarried, but only to some; but He encourages those to whom it is given ; ” He that is able to receive it,” says He, “let him receive it.”

When then Our Lord says “let him receive it,”you take Him to mean that people are to receive it; and that those who are able, do well to remain unmarried for God’s sake ?

Fr. Flanagan: Certainly; that is the plain simple sense; our Lord cannot surely mean by such words as “make themselves eunuchs ” to recommend marriage.

And you, gentlemen?

St. Paul’s: It is a difficult text. We do not generally speak much about it. You see the Apostle says, “Marriage is honourable in all.”

Fr. Flanagan: Oh! fie, for shame! You know you are giving a wrong translation. Come, come, we shall never find out the truth, unless we are ourselves truthful. You know the Apostle’s words are, “Let marriage be kept honourably by all.” But here at all events, our Lord does not say, “Marriage is honourable in all:” He says distinctly, “Making themselves eunuchs is honourable in some.”

The question is simply this. Our Lord and the Scriptures encourage men to remain unmarried for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. Do you encourage men to remain unmarried for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake? Do you ever praise it, or advise it, or in any way promote it?

The Tabernacle: Well! we do not. In fact, to be honest, we encourage age men to marry, and think the unmarried state not so good as the married. We do not care about monks and nuns. The life is too severe: men cannot live it.

St. Paul’s: I think with you. I do not believe it possible.

City Temple: We cannot do it. A wife is very useful in the ministry.

Fr. Flanagan: Cannot, again! Oh! ye of little faith! Do you really forget that what is impossible with man is possible with God? Do you believe at all that God is a God of power?

The Tabernacle: But surely forbidding to marry is one of the errors of Rome. We have said so these 300 years.

Fr, Flanagan: Forbidding to marry! Who talks of forbidding marriage to those who want to marry? Not we. After a baptism, there’s nothing I like so much as a marriage. The question is, if a man wants to make himself a eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake, whether he may do so ? You say no, and call him all kinds of bad names. Precious tyrants we think you for your pains. I say, if a man wants to marry let him marry, but if he wants to be single for God’s sake, in heaven’s name leave the man alone, and let him be single. Come, come, be honest; the simple point is this: Our Lord praises men for keeping themselves single for God’s sake; is it a practice among you to keep yourselves single for God’s sake?

S. Paul’s: Our bishops marry, our deans, canons, clergy, and laity. I do not think it is.

The Tabernacle: It is not.

City Temple: With us it is not.

Fr. Flanagan: With us it is. Once more, which of us is Scriptural?

Oh! Flanagan, Flanagan, you bad boy, when next you burn a Bible, pick out this text and keep it. I declare you have the best of it again.

There is only one thing more we will talk about. Fr. Flanagan, I met the other day a woman of your creed, who declared to me that she had been quite cured of rheumatism, lumbago, and I don’t know what besides, by the relics of some saints. I asked her to let me look at them, and she showed me a little bit of a bone that I could hardly see, and a piece of black rag that she said was part of some holy woman’s dress. When I told her it was the doctor’s stuff that cured her, she got so angry that I had to run out of the house like a shot, half afraid of a stool, or some other unpleasant missile, coming after me. Now, this may be all very well for poor old Goody Maguire, but you do not mean to tell me, Father Flanagan, that you educated Catholics will call such a thing as that Scriptural?
Fr. Flanagan: Not Scriptural! Why if there is a doctrine clearly proved by Scripture, I should think it was the doctrine of relics.

St. Paul’s: Well! I never!

The Tabernacle: It is not in our Bible. It must be in some of your books we don’t believe in; or some wrong translation, or something.

City Temple: I never read anything about relics that I remember.

Fr. Flanagan: There it is. You don’t half read your Bibles. You have got your favourite texts, and you stick to them. Talk of my burning Bibles! It seems to me that you clip and cut your Bibles to pieces. Now my dear Tabernacle, the Second Book of Kings—we call it the Fourth Book, but that does not matter—is in your Bible, is it not?

The Tabernacle: Of course it is.

Fr. Flanagan: Well! I will let you use your own translation. Now just turn to the 13th chapter, and read verses 20 and 21.

The Tabernacle: “And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass as they were burying a man, that behold they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the Sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.”

Fr. Flanagan: Well it was not the doctor’s stuff which cured that dead man?

The Tabernacle: No; he was dead.

Fr. Flanagan: Nor the man’s own faith?

City Temple: No; he was dead.

Fr. Flanagan: Nor the faith of those who threw him in ?

St. Paul’s: I suppose not. They wanted to get away from the Moabites. They do not seem to have brought him in faith for the purpose of throwing him in.

Fr. Flanagan: If they did bring him for the purpose, it would prove that they believed—like Goody Maguire—in the power of a holy man’s bones. But they did not. Now, by the plain text of Scripture, if it were not the doctor’s stuff, nor the dead man’s faith, nor the living men’s faith, what was it that raised the corpse to life ?

St. Paul’s: I think we must say it was dead Elisha’s dead bones.

Fr. Flanagan: And what were dead Elisha’s dead bones but the relics of a saint?

The Tabernacle: It is curious; I don’t think I ever thought of the text. But dead bones raise the dead! It cannot be.

Fr. Flanagan: Oh! Cannot, cannot, cannot! I tell you it was.

City Temple: But bones! God only can raise the dead.

Fr. Flanagan: Of course. Am I a baby that you tell me such “A B C” as that! Of course God only. But cannot God raise the dead through the bones of a saint, or through any instrument He pleases ?

The Tabernacle: Of course He can, if He pleases.

Fr. Flanagan: And does not this text show that He did so please ?

The Tabernacle: Yes; in old times.

Fr. Flanagan: In old times! Does God change? What He did under the Old Testament, in the time of fear, He will not do under the New Testament, in the time of love! Again I say, oh ye of little faith! You believe in a God of the past! You do not believe in a living God of the present.

Hush! Father Flanagan. You are getting a trifle hot, and red in the face. I must say I think you have made out about the bones. But what about Goody Maguire’s bit of black rag?

Fr. Flanagan: I will give you but two texts more, for I grant you do make a man hot. In the same Second Book of Kings, chapter ii., we are told that Elijah, when he went up in a fiery chariot, let fall his mantle, his cloak; only what you would call a rag, mind you; a mere piece of stuff. Now, Elisha took it up, and he did a thing which none of you could, according to your religion, have done.

“He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters,” which looked very much like the same sort of trust in a rag which Goody Maguire showed, ” and he said, where is the Lord God of Elijah?” which sounded very like trust in the merits and prayers of a saint, who had gone from earth, “and when he had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither; and Elisha went over.”

St. Paul’s: But that was the power of God, not of the mantle.

Fr. Flanagan: Oh! dear, dear, dear; of course it was the power of God; but it was the power of God using the mantle as His instrument. If not-what was the use of Elisha’s smiting the river with a piece of stuff? You do not dream that we think a Saint’s cloak will heal us by any power in the stuff itself! It is God, using it as He used Elijah’s mantle. You cannot get into your heads the notion of God’s using weak, worthless instruments.

City Temple: It was the power of prayer. Elisha prayed.

Fr. Flanagan: Granted. But he did not pray only. He prayed and struck. If prayer was enough, why strike? And his prayer was a strange one. He did not kneel down and ask God to divide the river. He did not pray to his God. He said “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” He used Elijah’s mantle, and prayed to Elijah’s God. Surely the plain meaning of this is that the river was divided for Elijah’s sake, by the prayer of Elijah in Paradise, and that God gave such strange power to Elijah’s relic to show that it was for his sake.

The Tabernacle: Well! well! granting all this, yet your text is from the Old Testament. Things were more outward in the Jews’ religion; after the coming of the Holy Ghost all things became spiritual and inward. We don’t want saints’ mantles now. You cannot give me one instance from the New Testament.

Fr. Flanagan: Can’t I? How I do wish you men would read your Bibles. Among your other societies, do please form a Bible-Reading Society, and read it fairly. Do you really not remember how a woman with an issue of blood was cured by the hem of Our Lord’s garment? Or did you never read how handkerchiefs and aprons were carried from St. Paul’s body to the sick, and how devils fled from a piece of stuff?

City Temple: I never read it; I don’t think it is in our version.

Fr. Flanagan: It is there, and you have read it. But you won’t notice these things. It is in Acts xix., verse 12.

The Tabernacle: It is there sure enough. It must have been the people’s faith.

Fr. Flanagan: Faith! The poor people had plenty of faith before the handkerchiefs touched the bodies; but never an inch did the devils budge for their faith till the handkerchief got near them. They might have asked St. Paul simply to pray, but they didn’t; they used the relics. Besides, what did they have faith in? They clearly had faith in that in which you have no faith, the power which God gives to a mere rag which has touched a saint’s body.

St. Pauls: It cannot be. A rag!

The Tabernacle: It cannot be.

City Temple. It cannot be.

Fr. Flanagan: Then you don’t believe the Scriptures. Oh ye of little faith!

Ah! Father Flanagan. I see you read the Bibles before you burn them. I declare you have beaten them again.

Fr. Flanagan: Beaten them! How could I help it? The Catholic Church is the Bible. The Church and the Bible being both from God are one and the same thing; and what God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

The Bible says what it means. Which religion really believes this?

Hmmmm. It that “check” or “check mate”?

  • http://aol.com Mary R

    Frank,Thank you so much for these two posts. I enjoyed the way Catholic doctrines are presented. I like the dialogue of the charracters and that Catholics beliefs are firmly rooted in the Bible.Sincerely,Mary R

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    @Mary R: When I came across it, I just had to share it. I'm very thankful that he wrote it!Father Bampfield is basically writing the argument I had with myself as I first started exploring the idea "could I become a Catholic?" As I dug into the Scriptures, and with help from my pals, it became increasingly obvious that I could.

  • Anonymous

    ooh, what a find! I always thought that God hides in plain sight and this is another example. Life is one big detective story and we should keep our eyes and ears open. He says what he means and means what he says and you're right to quote Sherlock Holmes. I read somewhere, that in the bible it says you will see God when you say the words" Holy, Holy Holy, God of power and might blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord". At Mass, after we say this the host is elevated. We literally see the Lord. Thank you for this post-Regina

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    @Regina:Thanks for reading it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05031457169948735603 micah

    Oh my goodness, so freakin' good. Loved this. Need to save this for another opportune time, no doubt… thanks!