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PASTORAL ON THE POPE'S EXILE. EDWARD, BY THE DIVINE MERCY AND THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SEE,
BISHOP OF ORTHOSIA AND APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF THE DIOCESE OF DERRY. To the Clergy and the Faithful of the Diocese of Derry
Greeting and Benediction in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I should have wished, dearly beloved brethren, to have communed with you at a somewhat earlier date, on a subject which so justly engrosses the attention, and enlists the sympathies of every sincere Catholic throughout Christendom. A severe and tedious indisposition alone prevented me from sooner discharging towards you this, what I felt to be a pressing and an imperative duty. Although the temporal condition of our own unhappy country be admittedly painful to contemplate, there is something still more painful in the afflicting news that has reached us from that city, hitherto the holy, the venerable, and the beloved, as the seat of religion's throne, the rock on which the bark of Peter was moored—the centre of Catholic unity, hallowed by a thousand glorious recollections—the sacred repository of the mortal vestments of the Tentmaker and Fisherman; yea, still further consecrated by the footprints of millions of sainted Confessors, and by the precious relics of tens of thousands of Christian martyrs. It was to that Christian Jerusalem the eyes of our old and young were wont to fondly turn, and their hearts to exult in the beauty of its tabernacles. Thither the Catholic pilgrim, from every land on earth, directed his anxious steps, to renew and invigorate his youth at the very source of the waters of life, or to seek for a wounded soul at the feet of Christ's Vicar, the balm of peace and the word of reconciliation—the Eternal City, God's beloved Sion, “the bolts of whose gates he strengthened, and whose children he blessed within it-within whose borders he placed peace, filling it with the fat of corn, from whence he delivered his word to Jacob his justices and his judgments to Israel”--Psalm 147; that city from which, in a word, faith was announced with truthful authority, and missionaries were sent forth with the sacred sign of redemption and the seal of a divine sanction to spread abroad, through every corner of the earth, the glad tidings of salvation—to bid those sitting in the darkness and in the shadow of death to raise their heads in hope above this valley of tears, and look to heaven : Oh! what a change, dearly-beloved brethren! that city now become a nest of vipers, the prey of the godless infidel, the seat of the bloody anarchist, sacred to assassination, blasphemy and sacrilege—the palace of the supreme Pontiff the object of a rabble's fury-his first Minister, and his confidential secretary and friend, the unpitied victims of their vengeance—the life of Peter's successor perilled in it—the great, the good, the beloved Father of the Faithful forced from it into exile, to seek elsewhere for himself a refuge, and for the Ark of God,
entrusted to his holy hands, a resting place. “Oh, the depth of the councils of God! how unsearchable are his ways, and how incomprehensible are his judgments!" how far that which seems good to men is removed from the views of God's ever-wise and merciful Providence!
The fond aspiration of our hearts would be to see vir. tues, such as distingvished our holy Pontiff, rewarded, even here below, with peace, with honor, with glory, with the heartfelt homage of children and of subjects, obedient to the best of Fathers and Sovereigns.
Such, however, dearly-beloved brethren, is not generally the way in which God deals with his elect. The just and the good, of course, he leads by the hand to their glorious destination, but their pathway to it he strews with thorns; to reach the Thabor of his permanent glory, they must carry their cross up the narrow, rugged heights of Calvary; and, even should they find in their way, scattered here and there, a few flowers of joy, they must gather them with a trembling hand from amidst the many thorns that surround them. Theirs is only a transient, momentary happiness, like the fleeting vision of the transfiguration, or like
6. The dewdrop that, glittering on the thorn,
In the past brief triumphs and present humiliations of our beloved and venerable Pontiff, we see, dearly-beloved brethren, the same finger of Providence that manifested itself in the life of our Divine Redeemer, whose Vicar he is. He also heard, on the commencement of his mission, this cry of seemingly warm affection
“Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and blessed are the breasts that suckled thee”—he saw the pressing anxiety of the multitude to crown him King of Juda and of Israel_him who already seemed to reign in their hearts. Babes and sucklings gave him praise—the garments of the people were spread before him to do him honor—the palm, the emblem of victory, and the olive, the symbol of abundance and peace, strewed his pathway, and the air was rent with hosannas to the Son of David, with blessings upon him that came in the name of the Lord. But amidst this scene of tumultuous joy, the Saviour was seen weeping, for well he knew the hollow fickleness of all human applause—that all human triumphs were but day-dreams, that end in tears—that they who spread their garments for him would shortly strip him of his own—that of the palm branches they were already forming a cross for him, and that, instead of the olive of gladness and of peace, they would very soon administer to him yinegar and gall, and that their hosannas, in fine, to the Son of David, would be changed, before a week had passed, into “Away with him, away with him—crucify him, crucify him.” Hence he wept, letting us understand that the real triumph of justice is in suffering, and its unfading crown only in a virtuous death. How striking, dearly-beloved brethren, the parallel between our Divine Redeemer and his holy Pontiff. His election to the Chair of Peter and the sovereignty of Rome was unanimous. The citizens leaped with joy, and hailed their new-made sovereign with vivas--they spread their garments on the ground to honor him—they sang their hosannahs to him—they blessed him as a Sa
yiour coming to them to redeem the captive, and to set the bondsman free-bouquets of flowers covered his pathway, and there was no end to their rejoicings. Like his Divine Master, he passed amidst them doing good, heaping upon them benefactions—striking the chain from the limb of the prisoner-restoring to disconsolate parents their lost children-proclaiming a universal jubilee of deliverance. None like the just and the good Pio Nono—the womb was blessed tnat bore him, and the breasts thrice blessed that suckled him-he alone was fit to reign over the Roman people—the great apostle of law revived, of order restored, and the great high Priest of liberty—the resurrection, in fine, and the very life of Rome. This, dearly-beloved brethren, was the world's forced tribute of transcendent beneficence and rectitude. Let us now see its inherent natural hatred of both. Its testimony to virtue is ever constrained, hollow and fleeting; its detestation of it real, spontaneous and permanent; for in it it sees its own condemnation. It was this feeling in Cair that made him murder Abel, because he was innocent—that in Cham mocked the best of fathers—that made Lot hostile to Abraham, his kinsman and benefactor—and made Esau's hatred of Jacob almost immortal; the same that induced Joseph's brethren to coolly plan his murder, to cast him into a pit, and afterwards sell him to the merchants of Idumea —the same that made Egypt detest Israel, and enslave it and pursue it to the death—the same that stirred up the thirty and one kings against God's people in the desert, and made Core and his followers conspire against Aaron and Moses—the same that made Saul furious