“Roman Catholicism and Spiritualism” American Sentinel 9, 46, pp. 361-363.

IN the last issue of the SENTINEL we concluded an article on saints and miracles, in which it was clearly shown that the Roman Catholic Church is honeycombed with the fundamental doctrines of Spiritualism, and that in practice she is daily seeking unto a multitude of dead men and dead women for temporal help and eternal salvation, instead of seeking unto Jesus who ever liveth to make intercession for men. But notwithstanding, the Roman Catholic Church is, in fact, the largest organization of Spiritualists outside of the great pagan systems of the East; she has professed opposition to the Spiritualism outside the limits of her jurisdiction, and has actually hurled condemnatory edicts against it. She has not, however, condemned the practice of seeking to men and women who are dead, but only the seeking unto the dead men and women whom the church has not canonized. In other words, the church has attempted to “corner” this whole business of seeking unto dead men and women, by prohibiting the seeking unto any save her own dead. The obvious reason for this is that there are “millions in it.” Those who are encouraged to seek unto these dead men and women, are encouraged to begin that seeking by making a liberal offering to the dead “saint,” and the church very generously offers to accept such offerings as the agent of all her dead “saints.”

This is one reason why the Roman Catholic Church has opposed what is termed modern Spiritualism. But it is becoming more evident to members of these two spiritualistic organizations that they have so much in common that the step from modern Spiritualism to Roman Catholic Spiritualism is short and easy to take.

Margaret Fox, one of the “Fox sisters,” through whom modern Spiritualism was first manifested in 1848, in what was later known as the “Rochester knockings,” realized this fact, and before her death, took this short step and united with the Roman Catholic Church. And now, 1894, a Roman Catholic publishing house [159] in London publishes a pamphlet entitled, “A Convert Through Spiritualism.” The work is prefaced by Richard F. Clarke, a Jesuit priest. The writer purchased the pamphlet of Benziger Brothers, “Printers to the Holy Apostolic See,” who advertised it on their special advertising bulletin, at the entrance to their New York office.

The pamphlet narrates, in the language of the convert, her conversion to Roman Catholicism as a result of seeking unto the dead through the channel of modern Spiritualism.

The Jesuit priest, in his preface, enumerates several “rules that ought to guide us in forming our opinions as to what is lawful and what is unlawful in the method of intercourse with those who belong to the invisible world,” and that “even with regard to Spiritualism, we must beware of indiscriminate condemnation of all who practice it.” In justification of this position he says:—

It is quite possible that God may permit some soul from purgatory to answer the summons of one who is an honest seeker after truth, just as he permits the holy souls to go unsought on messages of mercy to those on earth. There are well authenticated stories without number of the appearance to the living of those in purgatory. Why should we regard it as impossible that they should be sent to warn, instruct, or advise one, who, amid the mists of ignorance, was longing and praying for more light, and who in all good faith sought to obtain it through their instrumentality? Such exceptional cases do not in any way derogate from the general law respecting the character of Spiritualism.

The following quotations are taken from the story of the “convert,” who now speaks from the standpoint of a Roman Catholic, in a publication prefaced by a Jesuit priest, and published and sold by Roman Catholic publishing houses, and is a practical proof of the conclusion already reached by many infallible proofs that Roman Catholicism and modern Spiritualism are closely affiliated in doctrine and practice:—

“Not very long after my husband died, [362] when I was hungering and thirsting for some sign of his presence, for some evidence that he still lived and loved me, I began to hear Spiritualism discussed, and I read eagerly and listened earnestly, so as to obtain all the information I could glean…. I became most anxious to find some medium, but had no idea how to accomplish it, when an unexpected way was opened to me under very pleasant and desirable circumstances. A lady I knew told me she would like to introduce me to an old friend of hers, who, together with her daughter, was investigating Spiritualism in a very serious and religious manner. Accordingly, the introduction was effected, and the old lady kindly begged me to go and pay them a visit.

“Mrs. R. (as I will call her) and her daughter Margaret, had been originally Unitarians, but at the time I made their acquaintance they were Christian dissenters, the spirits having declared to them the divinity of our Lord.

“I may here add that Margaret eventually became a Catholic under the same influences which helped me to become one, although some time after my reception, and she has remained a thoroughly good and faithful child of the church for now more than twelve years, having baptized her mother on her death-bed, and instructed many in the faith. I make a point of mentioning this, because I have seen it stated, not only that Spiritualists seldom become Catholics (which is probably true, though I think many would do so if they could be brought under Catholic influences), but, that in the rare instances of apparent conversion, they have always gone back. I can only say that this is distinctly contradicted by facts within my knowledge.

“The séances held at Mrs. R.——’s house were entirely private, and were attended by no professional medium, but several of the habitats possessed considerable magnetic force, which had been developed and increased by these frequent meetings. There was, in particular, a certain Mr. B——, a member of the congregation to which my friends belonged, who had very extraordinary powers. He used to fall into a sort of trance, appearing like one dead, pale and livid, and then would suddenly start up, gazing straight before him into space, with eyes that had in them no speculation, and would begin to speak in voices quite other than and distinct from his own, voices of men, of women, and of children, voices refined and cultured, and voices coarse and rough, he being all the time entirely unconscious of what was being spoken through him. Occasionally a voice would be recognized by friends of the departed individual from whom it professed to emanate, but often the voices were those of strangers, coming, for the most part, to implore prayers. I afterwards saw this “trance-mediumship,” as it is called, in several other instances, especially in that of a German lady, now dead—an interesting person, of sensitive temperament and religious aspiration, who had come out of Calvinism through the teachings of her disembodied friends, and who was gradually learning Catholic doctrines….

“We were bidden always to make the sign of the cross before entering into these communications, and to request any spirit, wielding to spell a message, to move the indicator in the form of a cross, as they said that evil spirits were unable to make the holy sign. We found this a great protection, but still I think we were sometimes deluded, unless it might have been, that we perhaps did not always accurately obtain a message as it was intended….

“All the séances at Mrs. R.——’s were begun by prayer and the singing of hymns, by the special desire of the spirits present. They invariably begged to be prayed for, as did nearly always all the spirits with whom I was brought into contact during my investigations, in other places, and through other mediums. This fact struck me very much, and was, indeed, the first ray of light which flashed across my path. ‘Is not this the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory and of prayer for the dead?’ I asked of a spirit. ‘Yes, and it is true,’ was the reply. The spirits literally beset us with entreaties for prayers. Some of them appeared very unhappy, greatly lamenting the selfish and useless or sinful lives they had led upon earth, and which they were not expiating. ‘Are you in heaven?’ we would sometimes inquire of one who se words were more hopeful, and whose ‘influence’ was sweet and peaceful. ‘Oh, no, not yet—but I soon shall be, if you will pray,’ was once the answer.

“And so we prayed for the dead for the first time in our lives! Gradually many other Catholic truths were taught to Margaret and to me, spelled out by the “Indicator,’ but we were so ignorant of the doctrines that we did not always understand them, or recognize their full import at the time, though we began to wonder whether, as the church of Rome was apparently considerably right, it might not be actually possible that she should be right in a good deal more. And what if she should be altogether right, and be the one true teacher!

“I have heard that Mr. B——also became a Catholic eventually, but my friends, the R——’s, lost sight of him when he left their neighborhood, I am not sure of the fact.

“Another old friend, at present a professed nun, who has been a Catholic more than twenty years, often joined me in my inquiries into Spiritualism at the period of which I am writing, chiefly by putting her hand with mine on the ‘Indicator,’ to obtain the spelling of messages. Quite recently I paid her a visit at her convent, and, as we were talking over the ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ before the conversion of either of us, and wondering at our dreads and difficulties in those now dim and distant days, she replied to my mind an incident that had escaped my memory (though I now remember it perfectly), as to a communication we had received, in reply to a question of hers, as to whether the Church of England was preferable to other forms of religion, as she believed it then to be, meaning, of course, to Protestant sects, the Catholic Church being entirely outside her region of thought. ‘All these churches fall short of the ideal,’ was the reply; ‘the Roman Catholic Church is the true religion.’ Upon this, my friend immediately exclaimed: ‘Now, I know that this is not a reliable message!’ Yet she says she never forgot this testimony, and considers that it indirectly helped in her conversion.

“On leaving the R——’s, I went to London on a visit, and saw a great deal of Spiritualism, of all kinds, some of which was decidedly undesirable, and dangerous even from the point of view of a non-Catholic; but I was now determined to go fully and thoroughly into the subject. I also met and became intimately acquainted with some of the most enlightened and intellectual leaders of the movement, who were in reality rather mystics of the school of Böhmen, Jung Schilling, Oberlin, and others, than ordinary Spiritualists. By one of these earnest and thoughtful persons, I was lent an old Italian ‘Life of St. Catherine of Siena,’ which took a great hold upon me, so much so, that I began to invoke her, asking of her, instruction as well as intercession. And from this time I came gradually to see more clearly, and to accept Catholic doctrine in a way very wonderful, considering that I had never seen a priest, or read nay dogmatic Catholic book, or spoken to any Catholic in the flesh.

“One day I went to a séance with some friends, two of whom were High Church clergymen, at the house of a well-known medium. Answers to inquiries were spelled out by raps on the table, floor, and indeed, all over the room. Questions having been asked on theological matters by the two clergymen, especially concerning the real presence, and some confusion in the answers having arise, I said, ‘May I tell you what has been told to me?’ As I repeated what had been given me by ‘impression,’ I was accompanied by a perfect chorus of raps. ‘Is she right?’ asked one of the clergymen. ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ from all parts of the room. ‘How does she know this?’ ‘Because a very high spirit, called Cathering, is teaching her.’ ‘Who is this Catherine?’ said one of my friends to me. I replied, ‘I have been reading the ‘Life of St. Catherine of Siena.’ ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ came again from the invisible chorus. The impressional message received by me concerning transubstantiation, was, as I afterwards found when more fully instructed, entirely in accordance with Catholic doctrine….

“From this time I began to go to mass, and left off attending Anglican services, but I knew no Catholics, and had not the remotest idea of how to put myself in communication with a priest…. I was, however, received into the church, about six months after this episode, by a very experienced and remarkable priest, now dead, to whom I was made known by an American lady, herself a convert to Catholicism through the teachings of the spirits, a friend of the person who lent me the ‘Life of St. Catherine.’ Her occult experiences far transcend mine in interest, and she came into the church in a much more marvelous manner. She died a few years ago, after receiving the sacraments, an undoubted instance of the perseverance of a former Spiritualist. I should like to relate many of the wonderful things she told me about her conversion, but space fails, so I will only say in passing that it would seem to have been chiefly the work of Jesuit and Franciscan martyrs, who appeared to her and taught her, she being utterly ignorant not only of the Catholic religion, but of any form of Christianity, though very desirous of truth at any price, and from whatever quarter. Her husband and some friends, impressed by these extraordinary manifestations, followed in her footsteps, and were also received in America—I believe by a Jesuit father.

“I have only been able, in this sketch, to furnish a few broad outlines of strange facts, which to some may seem startling, but which I hold to be less unusual than [363] is ordinarily supposed, for God is very good to souls who seek him. A. E. W.”

Thus it is seen that the transfer from intercourse with the dead of the Spiritualistic séance to intercourse with the dead of the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, and vice versa, is short and easy. And that the Roman Catholic Church, in leaving the “Prince of Life whom God raised from the dead,” to invoke a multitude of dead “saints,” who have not been raised from the dead, has departed from the faith and become the victim of “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. [363]

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