Blessed are the Peacemakers for They Shall be Called the Children of God, by Father Basil William Maturin

detail of a bas relief of hands of friendship, date and artist unknown; town hall in Duisburg, Germany; photographed on 12 April 2010 by Oceancetacen; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsThis Beatitude comes not at the beginning, but at the end. The office of the peacemaker is not one to be lightly assumed by a novice in the spiritual life. It needs a long preparation and training. It is the Beatitude of the spiritual diplomatist. And the office of the diplomatist demands no ordinary skill and self-discipline. Without a very clear knowledge of the principles at stake and more than the average knowledge of men the diplomatist is pretty sure to fail in his mission. And if this be true in earthly things, and when mere earthly ends are at stake, it is infinitely more true in spiritual things. Only he who has learnt the lessons of the preceding Beatitudes will be able to fulfill the delicate work committed to him in this.

Notice for one moment how they have trained him at every point.

In the Beatitude of poverty of spirit he has learnt to estimate things at their true value and to use them for their proper end. By meekness he has learnt inner self-control, By mourning, not to shrink from sorrow and suffering, but to gain through them comfort from on high. By hunger and thirst after justice, he has learnt to bring every part of his nature to subserve its true end, which is God. By mercy he has learnt to blend in perfect proportion compassion and justice. By purity of heart to keep before him amidst the seductions of the world the true standards and aims of the Christian life.

And after this thorough training he is sent into the world as a peacemaker. A peacemaker who is to be blessed with the title not primarily of a Son of Man, which indeed he must be in the fullest sense of the word, but of the Child of God.

If we analyse the result of his training we shall find that it has taught him three things:

(1) That God must ever come first in the thoughts of man as his true end and the end of all created things; that God therefore must never be sacrificed for any one or any thing.

(2) He has learnt to know himself, and that he cannot live his true life without self-sacrifice and readiness to face difficulties whether interior or exterior without flinching.

(3) And he has learnt to know men, as no man can ever know them who does not love them and feel compassion for their infirmities.

Such is the stern and searching, yet withal loving school in which the Christian soul is prepared to fulfil his office as peacemaker in a world of strife and egotism, where men are at war with God, with themselves and with one another. He needs indeed to understand the principles at stake, to have himself well in hand, and to understand as well as to love the wayward and passionate nature of the men with whom he has to deal.

It need scarcely be asserted then that this is no Beatitude uttered on a natural temperament. On the kind of person who would do anything and surrender anything for peace. Such a character is often one of the most disturbing elements in life. Ready to surrender the most sacred interests and the most important principles to escape the trouble they entail, Such people would do well to remember that there are such sayings in the Gospels as “I am not come to send peace upon the earth but the sword,” and “Blessed are ye when all men shall revile you and speak evil of you falsely for My sake”.

A lasting peace can only be made on the principles of justice and truth. And a war in the cause of justice is better than a peace patched up at the cost of principle. Peace is not the only thing worth having in life, either in one’s own heart or in one’s relations with one’s own family, or with the world, Indeed I doubt if any one ever attained in his own heart that peace of God which passeth all understanding, till he had fought many a battle with himself and brought his rebellious nature under the dominion of conscience. There are women who give in to everything their husbands demand, however unjust, unreasonable and irreligious, for a peace that is not worth having. Many a mother, believing that the only way to keep hold of her son is by yielding to him in all that he demands, wonders that she seems neither to have held his affections nor to have kept her influence over him.

Therefore the easy-going lover of peace at any cost will find, not only that such peacemaking brings a blessing neither from God nor man, but that it is probably more difficult for him to bring himself under the law of the Beatitude than for one who is by nature a fighter. The fighter has in some ways the better instincts of the two, for he knows at least that there are things worth fighting for, and he is not afraid to face an opponent. He who is afraid of war will never be able to make a lasting peace.

Now the peacemaker of the Beatitude knows that he can make no terms with sin, nor with anything that is false or untrue. On this point there can be no surrender to gain the whole world. In the former Beatitude he has learnt to keep his standards unsullied in the midst of all the lowering attractions of the world. If men are to be led to God it is not by lowering the standard of right to suit their weakness; if they are to be led to the truth, it must be by their effort to rise to the truth, not by tampering with or explaining away truths that seem unpalatable. Such compromises with the revealed standards of right and truth have been made on all sides by religious bodies outside of the Catholic Church; and we see the result – more and more must be surrendered to human passion or human weakness, till the religion of Christ becomes emasculated and enfeebled, its sterner side denied, its mysteries explained away, many of its doctrines abandoned. It would be a strange thing if the truths of Revelation, with their great demands upon men’s hearts and wills, commended themselves at once to our lax and unsanctified nature. We naturally rebel against them. If they were not far above us they could not lift us up. It needs a discipline of the mind to be able to understand the things of God, as much as a discipline of the heart to love Him and a discipline of the will to obey Him.

The standards of Art are not lowered to meet the tastes of the unlettered mob, They are an education; they only appeal to those who have naturally an artistic temperament, or who have studied them and educated their minds so as to be able to appreciate and understand them. And so if the character and teaching of our Lord could appeal at once in all its beauty to men and women of sordid lives and earthly standards, it would not be an education. At first there are many things that disappoint us, as they did His Disciples. When He was challenged: “If Thou be the Christ, come down from the Cross and we will believe,’ I suppose some time or other most of us have felt that we could have wished He had come down and shown His Power. When He said again, “Wist ye not that I could even now pray to My Father and He would send more than twelve legions of angels,’ how we have wished that He had. How His enemies would have fled before His Face, and come back trembling to His Feet. It is only as we grow more spiritual, as our character becomes refined and purified, that we realise how much nobler and more perfect it was for Him to act as He did. Other men could not come down from their crosses and escape from their difficulties by the ministration of hosts of angels, and in assuming our nature He assumed the ordinary conditions of human life.

The deeper, therefore, the study of the Life of our Lord, not as an intellectual but as a spiritual study, the more we realise its transcendent beauty, its absolute perfection. Only as we try to follow His Example do we appreciate it. With lower standards and more vulgar ideals we may criticise it, find defects in it, think it a little tame. One critic finds that He was lacking in patriotism! that He was lacking in the sense of the ludicrous! As if He came from Heaven to teach men things they knew already. But as we seek to follow in His Footsteps we realise the faultless moral splendour that radiates from His Presence and transforms the lives of all who follow His example. We feel the truth of His words: “If thou wilt be perfect, take up thy cross and follow Me”.

And it is the same with the Truths of Revelation. There are many doctrines which do not appeal to the ordinary mind, educated chiefly in the things of earth. How can a man believe in hell if he does not believe in sin, or if he does not believe in the Incarnation and the price that was paid for the world’s Redemption. But in the lurid light which the cross throws upon sin it is not difficult to see how sin leads to hatred of God and of good. The doctrine of the Blessed Sacrament is the daily practical teaching of the words of our Lord: “As the Branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the Vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me”. “As the living Father hath sent Me and I live by the Father, even so he that eateth Me shall live by Me.” But how can men believe this who are aiming at no standard above their own reach, and doing nothing that they cannot do without the assistance of Grace, But those whose standard is the Life of Christ will find little difficulty in believing, nay – the first day of effort will show them that they cannot do what is above nature without a supernatural power, that to be Christlike, Christ must feed them with His own Life. That in the words of Saint Paul, the Gospel is “The power of God unto salvation”. A supernatural power to enable us to live up to a supernatural standard.

It would not be difficult to show how closely inter-woven are all the doctrines of Revelation. How they all hold together and form one whole, like the stones of an arch. And that as by removing one apparently insignificant stone the strength and stability of the arch is destroyed and its final collapse is only a matter of time, so by surrendering one doctrine of the faith, its unity and coherence is destroyed, and it may be only a question of time how long it will hold any sway over the minds of men.

For instance, to many men in the present day the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body seems to be one of little spiritual importance and of grave intellectual difficulty. Even if they grant the Resurrection of our Lord, the idea of the General Resurrection at the last day seems one that only burdens the mind with difficulty, placing it, as they say – untruly – in direct antagonism with the discoveries of modern science in regard to matter, and forming a picture which the educated imagination finds ludicrous and grotesque. Yet Saint Paul, ages before the birth of science, commits the Church to the position that in giving up the doctrine of the General Resurrection it surrenders the whole Christian Faith. “If,” he writes to the Corinthians, “the dead rise not, then is not Christ risen, and if Christ be not risen then is our preaching vain and ye are yet in your sins.” Some of our modern teachers outside the Church do not seem to realise that in explaining away the Resurrection in order to remove difficulties to faith, and to be in line with scientific speculation, in the mind of Saint Paul they are giving up Christianity.

The doctrines of Revelation therefore are not to be accepted or rejected merely because they commend themselves or fail to commend themselves to the unsanctified intellect. They are intended to educate the mind, and they need at least a certain amount of moral and spiritual training to appreciate them. “Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.” The carnal mind cannot understand the things of God.

And moreover it is not beyond the truth to say that every doctrine of the Faith has an influence of some sort on the formation and perfect development of character. Dogma acts as a mighty force behind the will, The man with one talent alleged as the reason for the failure of his life a conception of the Character of God which was in fact an utterly false one – he could not serve a God whom he believed to be unjust! A wrong idea in regard to the very subtle and difficult question as to the relation of man’s free will to God’s foreknowledge has warped the whole character of many a man, and has been the excuse to not a few for immorality and failure. Upon the doctrine of the Eternal Trinity, which seems an abstract and purely metaphysical one, depends our conception of the Love of God, whether Love be an accidental or essential attribute of the Godhead, with all its consequences upon the character of man.

Therefore any tampering with the doctrines of Revelation, however excellent the intention and however large the charity that prompts it, has a more far-reaching influence upon life and character than is at first perceived. The surrender of one doctrine or one spiritual precept of our Lord may, in fact, have the result of producing quite a different type of character from that which He intended in founding His Church to teach and train souls. “Teaching them,” as He said, “to observe all that I command you.” What should we think of a man who strove to obey all the commands except one which he found too hard for him and deliberately violated. His character would be very different from that produced by obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Therefore the peacemaker who would seek the blessing of the Beatitude knows that it is better to set the world against him, to be hated of all men and falsely accused, than, for any apparent good or any immediate gain, to forfeit one jot or one tittle of the spiritual standard or dogmatic teaching of the Church. Our Lord warned us long ago to expect such treatment, and that misunderstanding would lead men to believe that in killing those who were faithful to Him they were doing God’s service.

The rigidity and changelessness of the Catholic Church, in teaching what She claims to be Her mission to teach – the Truths of revelation – whether in fact She be mistaken or not; Her readiness to lose any number of Her followers rather than compromise what She believes to be the truth, instead of proceeding from a lack of charity, is in principle the very highest charity, and though it be no doubt a cause of strife and division, has within it the first and most essential characteristic of the peacemakers who are to be called the Children of God. She knows at any rate and teaches the world that there is such a thing as principle, and that She can never weigh numbers against Truth and Right. Her strength, and, if you like it, Her weakness is this unbending rigidity; She claims to have a message from God to give to men, a message with which She has no right or power to tamper for the sake of any results however great. If men will accept it in its entirety, well and good; if not, She must leave them. And the result is that She presents to the world, torn and tossed with doubts and questionings, rent into bodies possessing more or less of the truth, one compact mass, bound together by one unchanging spiritual and doctrinal standard. If She is, as undoubtedly She is, the object of hatred and fear to many; if She is, and always has been, the source of many a bitter strife, the cause of many a schism, by Her unyielding consistency and fidelity to Her trust – She is at the same time the one true peacemaker, giving to vast multitudes peace with God, peace within their own hearts and a unity amongst themselves unknown to all the world.

And those of us who in our measure and degree would carry out the mission and gain the blessing of the peacemaker who is to be called the Child of God, must follow Her example and be firmly rooted in the conviction that for the sake of man there can be no compromise of right and truth – no tampering with the standards given by God; and that the price of peace may often be a long period of war, misunderstanding, antagonism, revolt.

But it is not enough to know the changelessness of the Truth of God. We must, if we would be peace-makers, know man also, If we know God in His holiness and purity, we must know man in all the frailty of his unstable nature. There are men, rigidly orthodox, uncompromisingly moral, who have little weight or influence with the world. People respect them, but do not love them, and still less feel inclined to follow them. They radiate forth a cold light that chills but never warms, Their influence for good is extraordinarily limited considering how upright and good they are. There are Catholics who would willingly die for the faith, who never in their lives won a single person to it, who have, on the contrary, repelled many from it. What is the matter with such people? I think it is that they are intolerant not merely of wrong, but of the weakness and frailty of human nature. They do not understand its shiftiness and uncertainty, its paradoxes and compromises and inconsistencies. They are intolerant of the faults to which they have themselves no temptation. The strong do not understand the difficulties of the weak, the calm-tempered high-principled man of cold blood and few passions, scorns the poor shabby bespattered life and hopeless inconsistencies of one who is inwardly torn this way and that by the violence of conflicting passions. The sledge-hammer argument, “This is right, that is wrong; this is true, that is false – and there the matter ends. If you know a thing is wrong, why do you do it?” however unanswerable does not either convince or convert. There is something else that must be taken into consideration. The cry that utters itself from the lips of one who knew well the human heart: “The good that I would, I do not; the evil that I would not, that I do”. “I cannot do the things that I would.”

This is what such men fail to realise. They may know something of God, they may know much of truth and justice, uprightness and integrity, but they know little of men – of the struggles that precede, the remorse that follows, some grave sin, They judge things in the abstract.

And certainly the deed done, the words spoken can and must be so judged. The most charitable man in the world would be insincere if he tried to prove that a lie spoken, or an act of theft committed, were not in themselves wrong. But when it comes to the consideration of the person, it is very different. Many things may go to modify the moral guilt of the man who did the evil deed. The deed in itself, and the deed as done by the doer of it, demand very different judgments.

It is by no abstract law that men are to be judged, but with all due weight and consideration of circumstance, education, temperament.

The peacemaker therefore while keeping before him the lofty standard of his religion, needs also to know the material in which these standards are to be wrought out. He must know man as well as God. He must have learnt the lessons of the Beatitude of the merciful, as well as that of the pure in heart.

He knows that there can be no lowering of the ideals set before us by Christ, but he has learnt – ah, yes! in the school of his own bitter experience – how hard it is to rise to them, how great is the contrast between desire and attainment. And how long it takes even to kindle the desire in one who has failed deeply!

How then can he bring together God’s high demands and man’s stormy nature with his weakened will and dimmed spiritual vision?

This is the work of the spiritual diplomatist. And needless to say it is one demanding the utmost tact and the greatest delicacy of treatment, a combination of firmness and gentleness, an entire faithfulness to God and a knowledge of man that can be gained by nothing but by love.

He has at once to keep up the standard and to deal with great forbearance and patience with those whom he would lead onward in the service of God. Human nature emerging or trying to emerge from the fascination and slavery of sin is very easily frightened and discouraged. Men who have lived most of their lives in reckless self-indulgence and without a thought of God do not, as a rule, like or trust good people, and they know nothing about the power of religion; they only feel that religion expects a good deal from them and that they have very little to give.

To ask much of such men in the way of prayer or the practices of the spiritual life would be ridiculous, they have no spiritual life. To set before them even a high moral standard would only frighten them away. Poor men, they are fighting naked passions and their own savage lusts; the beast within them which they have nourished for years is alive and awake and angry, crying out for food. How can one speak to such men of the great Christian virtues and of the holiness which God demands of His children? And yet it is impossible, even for the sake of such as these, to tamper with the law of God, or to permit, in the name of religion, what is wrong.

But the peacemaker, with the Divine love and patience which he has learnt from his Master, knows how to make the greatest sinner at once realise that the law of God must be obeyed, that sin is sin, and at the same time that God is infinitely patient and long-suffering with those who are trying, however feebly and with many failures, to do right. It is one thing to say that such and such sins must be permitted in certain cases; that human nature is too weak to resist them, and that you will only drive people away if you insist upon their being given up. But it is quite another thing to impress upon a man who is only just beginning to awaken to the claims of God upon his soul, what is wrong and must at least be struggled against, and at the same time to help him to realise God’s infinite patience with those who are struggling. In the one case the standard of God is lowered and human nature weakened and degraded, in the other the standard is kept up and men are taught through many failures to strive after it.

And I think the Catholic Church succeeds in doing this as no other religious body even tries to do it. She can lead men on to the highest types of sanctity. She can train the contemplative in the ways of mystic prayer, and can teach Her great active orders to go forth into the world mingling with all sorts of people, yet true to their high vocation, with their loins girt, their lamps burning and they themselves like unto men that wait for the Bridegroom. And She can deal with the lowest and most degraded. She knows from whom to ask everything, and from whom to expect but little. Her religious demands upon Her children taken as a whole is very small – less than many other religious bodies. Many people outside the Church are scandalised at it. But what She demands, She demands not from a select few, not only from those who are what are called religious, but from all Her children; and what She demands She insists upon. In the few religious observances which She makes of obligation She is legislating for a vast multitude of people of all classes and types and nations, many of whom have neither time nor inclination for much prayer or church-going. It would be useless to ask much of many of them, and knowing the human heart She knows that it is far better to ask a little and insist upon it, than to ask much and get perhaps nothing.

All that is of obligation to every Catholic throughout the world is to go to Mass, which takes about half an hour, once on Sunday and a few of the greater festivals in the year; to go to Confession and Holy Communion at Easter, and to abstain from meat on Fridays, and to keep certain days as fasts; and in regard to these fasts She gives very liberal powers to Her priests to dispense those who from ill-health or work, or other good reason, would find it difficult to keep them. That is all that is of obligation. The minimum which is insisted upon for all. If a man went to Holy Communion every week day he is as much obliged to go to Mass on Sunday as if he never went to church through the week. The rule is for all, the most religious as well as the least religious. Of course She encourages and advises a much higher standard for those who are capable of it. But this is all She commands and insists upon for all Her children, And no one can complain that it is too much, or that it is beyond his spiritual capacity. If too much were demanded a multitude of people would feel that they could not live up to it, and would not try to do the little that they could. She therefore puts the standard of religious observance upon which She insists well within reach of the weakest.

And so She leads many, who would otherwise be discouraged, on to higher things. She shows Her deep knowledge of human nature and its weakness in thus laying down laws of obligation to suit the weakest, not the strongest, the least devout, not the most devout. Other religious bodies deal primarily with the inner circle, They expect too much. The Catholic Church in Her wide view takes in the world, and She has regard to the hidden longings of the human heart, to the power of conscience, the mighty gift of faith, and the mystic attraction which Her churches, guarding as they do the living Presence of our Lord in their midst, exercise upon all who enter within their portals.

For Her object is to lead men on, to keep them within reach of Her power, to make them come, if it be but for half an hour in the week, under the influences of religion, and beneath the spell of that hidden Presence which draws all men unto it. Most people resent being driven, no one can resent being drawn. What is put upon them by authority seems more or less of a task. The task therefore is made as light as possible, it just obliges them to come from time to time within the influence of currents that carry multitudes on without resistance.

At the same time the vision which the Church has before Her eyes is that of the “vast multitude which no man can number of all nations and tribes and people and tongues standing before the Throne of God clad in the white robes of perfect purity”. And with a strong faith in the human soul naturally Christian, the underlying longing for God, often scarcely understood, and with an undying confidence in Her own power so to express the religion of Christ that it will lay its spell upon the soul if it can reach it, She exercises the gift of prudence as to the best way to bring the greatest number under its influence.

And it is the same in the moral life. The confessionals of the Catholic Church deal with sin as it is dealt with nowhere else. There are kept up the unvarying standards of right, and yet the weakest and most sinful go away comforted and filled with the sense of God’s Mercy and Goodness. The priest sits there to minister the law of God and of His Church; on the one hand he represents the inviolable holiness of the Divine law, and on the other the infinite mercy of our Lord. His education is largely to teach him how far he can go on the side of mercy by giving Absolution; what is the very least he can demand of the penitent, as a sufficient token of contrition, involved as he is perhaps in many complications and under the bondage of long-standing habits. And often he cannot ask much, he cannot expect much, It takes very little to frighten a soul in the early stages of its conversion. It is hard enough for one who has gone on deliberately for years in grievous sin to believe in God’s readiness to pardon and restore him.

The office of the Priest in the confessional is therefore to awaken the soul to the sense of the grievousness of sin, and at the same time, however great the sin, to send him away feeling how good and merciful God is, He may feel that it is more than probable that it will take a long time for habit to yield to self-control, and that there may be many lapses while there is at the time of confession a real earnest desire to do better.

There are many severe comments from outside on the laxity of the confessional, and how people are allowed to come to confession week after week, while they lapse again and again into the same sins and show little sign of improvement. But who that is a mere onlooker can tell? Who can tell of the strength of passion and the force of habit – who but the priest who has heard it, can tell of the bitter remorse, of the hopelessness that has reached almost to the verge of despair, of the sinner who is so lightly criticised. They see nothing but failure, yet there may be a growing effort, an awakening hope, a gradual realisation of the power of Divine grace which is the earnest of final victory.

Thus the Church acts as the perfect type of the peacemaker, And all who follow Her example, by unflinching fidelity to the standards of our Lord, and infinite patience and toleration of those who are weaker and more prone to evil than themselves, will gain the blessing of the peacemakers who shall be called the children of God, In such persons there will be no weakness, no sentimental condolence of sin, no loss of moral fibre. But at the same time there will be no harshness towards men, no sweeping condemnation of men as individuals or classes. They will always keep clearly in their own minds, and make it felt by others, that they draw a distinction between sin and the sinner, that the sin is always to be judged and condemned but the sinner is to be left to the all-wise and all-merciful judgment of God and to be treated with gentleness and charity. For none can tell the secrets of the human heart, and the multitude of considerations that may modify the guilt of the evil-doer, As the son of God, the peacemaker is intolerant of sin; as the son of man, he is full of compassion, long-suffering and of great mercy towards the sinner.

And this effort in the higher sphere will educate men in the principles upon which the peacemaker must always act in the constant difficulties that arise between man and man.

No one will ever be a peacemaker who is a partizan. Those who would make peace must not take sides. Their bias will not be towards one or other of the parties at strife, but towards justice and right. When Josue of old had entered the Land of Promise and found enemies on all sides, we are told that a mysterious Personage appeared to him and stood over against him with a drawn sword in his hand, “and Josue went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou one of us or of our adversaries, and he said, No, but as Prince of the host of the Lord am I now come.” Such must be the position of the peacemaker. In full sympathy with the difficulties on either side, but himself standing with the hosts of the Lord for right and justice. If he cannot enter into and sympathise with the difficulties on either side he will never draw together those who are at strife; if he brings them together by a sacrifice of principle the peace is not worth making. Thus even in the misunderstandings and differences that arise in earthly affairs, it is religion that trains a man in the true principles of the peacemaker and fits him for his work.

But there are special difficulties in our own day and our own country which call for the work of the peacemaker, and which can be but just alluded to.

We are living at a time when, in spite of much indifference, there is a vast deal of religious earnestness, and difference of religious opinion, and the air is full of controversy and questionings.

Now under such circumstances the position of a Catholic is a very difficult one. For amidst all the Babel of opinion around him he has a certainty that he has the truth, of a different character and in a far intenser degree than that of a member of any other body of Christians. He knows in fact that the Catholic Church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and in so far as other bodies differ from Her in matters of faith he knows that they are wrong.

He knows moreover that there can be no lasting peace based on any other foundation than that of truth, and that truth and untruth cannot come to terms of peace in the human soul.

But here again he must keep clear in his mind the difference between untruth in the abstract and in the concrete. The untruth of a false and imperfect system, and that held by an individual belonging to the system. We must rightly hate and condemn every religious system that holds men in the bondage of untruth or withholds them from the liberty that truth alone can give. But our attitude towards those who belong to such systems must be very different, if we would act as their peacemakers by leading them to the truth.

1. In the first place, we must be very sure of the truth ourselves. We must know well the truth to which we would bring them. Know it, not merely with a kind of traditional knowledge, from the fact that we have been brought up in it from infancy, but clearly, definitely, intelligently. We must, so to speak, see all round it, so as to be able to meet objections and to express it in language that is not exaggerated or likely to lead to misapprehension. Many have been kept back from a consideration of some doctrine of the Catholic Church because they have heard it expressed in language that really misrepresents it. The spiritual diplomatist must therefore be well schooled in all the aspects of the cause which he would plead.

2. But, secondly, he must know, and not only know, but be able, if only for the moment, to throw himself into some sort of intellectual sympathy with the position of those whom he would win round.

If he does not know and cannot understand their difficulties he will be arguing in the dark, and will surely only alienate those whom he desires to win. A great number of people take little interest in the faiths of others, they do not understand, nor do they want to understand them. Very well. They are quite justified in their aloofness. They have perhaps neither the time, nor the talent, nor the sympathy that would lead them to such studies. But let them keep out of controversy and avoid any effort to win these people to the Truth. In this department, at least, they have neither the talents nor vocation of a peacemaker. And their efforts, if they make any, are likely to do more harm than good.

The peacemaker must, if he is to be at all equipped for his work, be in sympathy with both sides. He must be able to see clearly another’s difficulty, the element of truth perhaps enveloped in a vast deal that is untrue, to separate the chaff from the wheat, and to preserve every grain of wheat, to detect the point where untruth has a hold on the mind, and to measure the strength of its hold; to show often that the error that is held is but the misrepresentation of a truth. And all this involves patience, knowledge and a large-minded sympathy.

3. And, thirdly, no man can ever act as a peacemaker in matters of religious belief who allows his mind for a moment to entertain a doubt of the sincerity of the men with whom he is dealing.

It is a narrow, hard, uncharitable view of men to suppose that because their position seems to you illogical and absurd they must themselves realise that it is so. It is very difficult to see the inconsistencies of a system in which one has been brought up from childhood; and intelligent, well-educated men who in every other department of life are sane and reasonable, in religious matters will often be found to have left aside all reason.

To approach a man, therefore, on controversial questions, whose good faith one doubts or disbelieves in, is to insult him.

With these qualifications then, the Catholic can go forth into the world equipped for the delicate task of bringing others under the dominion of the truth which shall make them free.