The Highly Educated and Refined Woman in the Confessional. -- What Becomes of Her Unconditional Surrender. -- Her Irreparable Ruin
THE most skilful warrior has never had to display so much skill and so many ruses de guerre -- he has never had to use more tremendous efforts to reduce and storm an impregnable citadel, than the confessor, who wants to reduce and storm the citadel of self-respect and honesty which God Himself has built around the soul and the heart of every daughter of Eve.
But, as it is through woman that the Pope wants to conquer the world, it is supremely important that he should enslave and degrade her by keeping her at his feet as his footstool, that she may become a passive instrument for the accomplishment of his vast and profound scheme.
In order perfectly to master women in the higher circles of society, every confessor is ordered by the Pope to learn the most complicated and perfect strategy. He has to study a great number of treatises on the art of persuading the fair sex to confess to him plainly, clearly, and in detail, every thought, every secret desire, word, and deed, just as they occurred.
And that art is considered so important and so difficult that all the theologians of Rome call it the art of arts."
Dens, St. Liguori Chevassu, the author of the "Mirror of the Clergy," Debreyne, and a multitude of authors too numerous to mention, have given the curious and scientific rules of that secret art.
They all agree in declaring that it is a most difficult and dangerous art; they all confess that the least error of judgment, the least imprudence or temerity, when storming the impregnable citadel, is certain death (spiritual, of course) to the confessor and the penitent.
The confessor is taught to make the first steps towards the citadel with the utmost caution, in order that his female penitent may not suspect at first, what he wants her to reveal; for that would generally induce her to shut for ever the door of the fortress against him. After the first steps of advance, he is advised to make several steps back, and to put himself in a kind of spiritual ambuscade, to see the effect of his first advance. If there is any prospect of success, then the word "March on!" is given, and a more advanced post of the citadel must be tried and stormed, if possible. In that way, little by little, the whole place is so well surrounded, so well crippled, denuded and dismantled, that any more resistance seems impossible on the part of the rebellious soul.
Then, the last charge is ordered, the final assault is made; and if God does not perform a real miracle to save that soul, the last walls crumble, the doors are beaten down; then the confessor makes a triumphant entry into the place; the very heart, soul, conscience, and intelligence are conquered.
When once master of the place, the priest visits all its most secret recesses and corners; he pries into its most sacred chambers. The conquered place is entirely and absolutely in his hands; he is the supreme master; for the surrender has been unconditional. The confessor has become the only infallible ruler in the conquered place -- nay, he has become its only God -- for it is in the name of God he has besieged, stormed and conquered it; it is in the name of God that, hereafter, he will speak and be obeyed.
No human words can adequately convey an idea of the irreparable ruin which follows the successful storming and unconditional surrender of that, once, noble fortress. The longer and stronger the resistance has been, the more terrible and complete is the destruction of its beauty and strength; the nobler the struggle has been, the more irretrievable are the ruin and loss. Just as the higher and stronger the dam is built to stem the current of the rapid and deep waters of the river, the more awful will be the disasters which follows its destruction; so it is with that noble soul. A mighty dam has been built by the very hand of God, called self-respect and womanly-modesty, to guard her against the pollutions of this sinful world; but the day that the priest of Rome succeeds, after long efforts, in destroying it, the soul is carried by an irresistible power into unfathomable abysses of iniquity. Then it is that the once respected lady will consent to hear, without a blush, things against which the most degraded woman would indignantly shut her ears. Then it is that she freely speaks with her confessor on matters, for reprinting which a printer in England has lately been sent to jail.
At first, in spite of herself, but soon with a real sensual pleasure, that fallen angel, when alone, will think on what she has heard, and what she has said in the confessional-box. Then, in spite of herself, the vilest thoughts will, at first irresistibly fill her mind; and soon the thoughts will engender temptations and sins. But those vile temptations and sins, which would have filled her with horror and regret before her entire surrender into the hands of the foe, beget very different sentiments, now that she is no more her own self-possessor and guide. The conviction of her sins is no more connected with the thought of a God, infinitely holy and just, whom she must serve and fear. The convictions of her sins is now immediately connected with the thought of a man with whom she will have to speak, and who will easily make everything right and pure in her soul by his absolution.
When the day for going to confession comes, instead of being sad, uneasy and bashful, as she used to be formerly, she feels pleased and delighted to have a new opportunity of conversing on those matters without impropriety and sin to herself; for she is now fully persuaded that there is no impropriety, no shame, no sin; nay, she believes, or tries to believe, that it is a good, honest, Christian, and godly thing to converse with her priest on those matters.
Her most happy hours are when she is at the feet of that spiritual physician, showing him all the newly-made wounds of her soul, and explaining all her constant temptations, her bad thoughts, her most intimate secret desires and sins.
Then it is that the most sacred mysteries of the married life are revealed; then it is that the mysterious and precious pearls which God has given as a crown of mercy to those whom He has made one body, one heart and soul, by the blessed ties of a Christian union, are lavishly thrown before swine. Whole hours are passed by the fair penitent in thus speaking to her Father Confessor with the utmost freedom, on matters which would rank her amongst the most profligate and lost women, if it were only suspected by her friends and relatives. A single word of those intimate conversations would be followed by an act of divorce on the part of her husband, if it were known by him.
But the betrayed husband knows nothing of the dark mysteries of auricular confession; the duped father suspects nothing; a cloud from hell has obscured the intelligence of them both, and made them blind. On the contrary, -- husbands and fathers, friends and relations, feel edified and pleased with the touching spectacle of the piety of Madam and Miss -- . In the village, as well as in the city, every one has a word to speak in their praise. Mrs. -- is so often seen humbly prostrated at the feet, or by the side, of her confessor; Miss -- remains so long in the confessional-box; they receive the holy communion so frequently; they both speak so eloquently and so often of the admirable piety, modesty, holiness, patience, charity, of their incomparable spiritual Father!
Every one congratulates them on their new and exemplary life, and they accept the compliment with the utmost humility, attributing their rapid progress in Christian virtues to the holiness of their confessor. He is such a spiritual man; who could not make rapid strides under such a holy guide?
The more constant the temptations, the more the secret sins overwhelm the soul, and the more airs of peace and holiness are put on. The more foul the secret emanations of the heart, the more the fair and refined penitent surrounds herself by an atmosphere of the sweetest perfumes of a sham piety. The more polluted the inside of the sepulchre is, the more shining and white the outside will be kept.
Then it is that, unless God performs a miracle to prevent it, the ruin of that soul is sealed. She has drunk in the poisonous cup filled by the "mother of harlots," she has found the wine of her prostitution sweet! She will henceforth delight in her spiritual and secret orgies. Her holy (?) confessor has told her that there is no impropriety, no shame, no sin, in that cup. The Pope has sacrilegiously written the word "Life" on that cup of "Death." She has believed the Pope; the terrible mystery of iniquity is accomplished!
"The mystery of iniquity doth already work, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. ii. 7-12.)
Yes; the day that the rich, well-educated lady gives up her self-respect, and unconditionally surrenders the citadel of womanly modesty into the hands of a man, whatever be his name or titles, that he may freely put to her questions of the vilest character, which she must answer, she is lost and degraded, just as if she were the humblest and poorest servant-girl.
I purposely say "the rich and well-educated woman," for I know that there is a prevalent opinion that the social position of her class places her above the corrupting influences of the confessional, as if she were out of the reach of the common miseries of our poor fallen and sinful nature.
So long as the well-educated lady makes use of her accomplishments to defend the citadel of her womanly self-respect against the foe -- so long as she sternly keeps the door of her heart shut against her deadly enemy -- she is safe.
But let no one forget this: she is safe only so long as she does not surrender. When the enemy is once master of the place, I emphatically repeat, the ruinous consequences are as great, if not greater, and more irreparable than in the lowest classes of society. Throw a piece of precious gold into the mud, and tell me if it will not plunge deeper than the piece of rotten wood.
What woman could be nobler, purer, and stronger than Eve when she came from the hands of her Divine Creator? But how quickly she fell when she gave ear to the seducing voice of the tempter! How irreparable was her ruin when she complacently looked on the forbidden fruit, and believed the lying voice which told her there was no sin in eating of it!
I solemnly, in the presence of the great God, who ere long, will judge me, give my testimony on this grave subject. After 25 years' experience in the confessional, I declare that the confessor himself encounters more terrible dangers when hearing the confessions of refined and highly educated ladies, than when listening to those of the humbler classes of his female penitents.
I solemnly testify that the well-educated lady, when she has once surrendered herself to the power of her confessor, becomes at least as vulnerable to the arrows of the enemy as the poorer and less educated. Nay, I must say that, once on the downhill road of perdition, the high-bred lady runs headlong into the pit with a more deplorable rapidity than her humbler sister.
All Canada is witness that a few years ago, it was among the highest ranks of society that the Grand Vicar Superior of the college of Montreal, was choosing his victims, when the public cry of indignation and shame forced the Bishop to send him back to Europe, where he, soon after, died. Was it not also among the higher classes of society that a superior of the Seminary of Quebec was destroying souls, when he was detected, and forced, during a dark night, to fly and conceal himself behind the walls of the Trappist Monastery of Iowa?
Many would be the folio volumes which I should have to write, were I to publish all that my twenty five years' experience in the confessional has taught me of the unspeakable secret corruption of the greatest part of the so-called respectable ladies, who have unconditionally surrendered themselves into the hands of their holy (?) confessors. But the following fact will suffice for those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and an intelligence to understand:
In one of the most beautiful and thriving towns along the St. Lawrence River, lived a rich merchant. He was young, and his marriage with a most lovely, rich and accomplished young lady had made him one of the happiest men in the land.
A few years after his marriage, the Bishop appointed to that town a young priest, really remarkable for his eloquence, zeal, and amiable qualities; and the merchant and the priest soon became connected by links of the most sincere friendship.
The young, accomplished wife of the merchant soon became the model woman of the place under the direction of her new confessor.
Many and long were the hours she used to pass by the side of her spiritual father to be purified and enlightened by his godly advices. She soon was seen at the head of the few who had the privilege of receiving the holy communion once a week. The husband, who was a good Raman Catholic himself, blessed God and the Virgin Mary, that he had the privilege of living with such an angel of piety.
Nobody had the least suspicion of what was going on under that holy and white mantle of the most exalted piety. Nobody, except God and His angels, could hear the questions put by the priest to his fair penitent, and the answers made during the long hours of their tete-a-tete in the confessional-box. Nobody but God could see the hellish fires which were devouring the hearts of the confessor and his victim! For nearly one year, both the young priest and his spiritual patient enjoyed, in those intimate and secret conversations, all the pleasure which lovers feel when they can speak freely to each other of their secret thoughts and love.
But this was not enough for them. They both wanted something more real; though the difficulties were great, and seemed insurmountable. The priest had his mother and sister with him, whose eyes were too sharp to allow him to invite the lady to his own house for any criminal object, and the young husband had no business, at a distance, which could keep him long enough out of his happy home to allow the Pope's confessor to accomplish his diabolical designs.
But when a poor fallen daughter of Eve has a mind to do a thing, she very soon finds the means, particularly if high education has added to her natural shrewdness.
And in this case, as in many others of a similar nature which have been revealed to me, she soon found out how to attain her object without compromising herself or her holy (?) confessor. A plan was soon found and cordially agreed to; and both patiently awaited their opportunity.
"Why have you not gone to mass to-day and received the holy communion, my dear?" said the husband. "I had ordered the servant-man to put the horse in the buggy for you, as usual."
" I am not very well, my beloved; I have passed a sleepless night from headache."
"I will send for the physician," replied the husband.
"Yes, my dear; do send for the physician -- perhaps he will do me good."
One hour after the physician called, and he found his fair patient a little feverish, pronounced that there was nothing serious, and that she would soon be well. He gave her a little powder, to be taken three times a day, and left; but at 9 P. M., she complained of a great pain in the chest, and soon fainted and fell on the floor.
The doctor was again immediately sent for, but he was from home; it took nearly half an hour before he could come. When he arrived the alarming crisis was over -- she was sitting in an arm-chair, with some neighboring women, who were applying cold water and vinegar to her forehead.
The physician was really at a loss what to say of the cause of such a sudden illness. At last, he said that it might be an attack of "ver solitaire." (tapeworm). He declared that it was not dangerous; that he knew how to cure her. He ordered some new powder to be taken, and left, after having promised to return the next day. Half an hour after, she began to complain of a most terrible pain in her chest, and fainted again; but before doing so, she said to her husband:
"My dear, you see that the physician understands absolutely nothing of the nature of my disease. I have not the least confidence in him, for I feel that his powders make me worse. I do not want to see him any more. I suffer more than you suspect, my beloved; and if there is not soon a change, I may be dead to-morrow. The only physician I want is our holy confessor; please make haste to go and get him. I want to make a general confession, and to receive the holy viaticum (communion) and extreme unction before I grow worse."
Beside himself with anxiety, the distracted husband ordered the horse to be put in the buggy, and made his servant accompany him on horseback, to ring the bell, while his pastor carried "the good god" (Le Bon Dieu) to his dear sick wife.
He found the priest piously reading his breviarium (his book of daily prayers), and admired the charity and promptitude with which his good pastor, in that dark and chilly night, was ready to leave his warm and comfortable parsonage at the first appeal of the sick. In less than an hour, the husband had taken the priest with "the good god" from the church to the bedroom of his wife.
All along the way, the servant-man had rung a big hand-bell, to awaken the sleeping farmers, who, at the noise, had to jump, half naked, out of their beds, and worship, on their knees, with their faces prostrate in the dust, "the good god" which was being carried to the sick by the holy (?) priest.
On his arrival, the confessor, with every appearance of sincere piety, deposited "the good god" (Le Bon Dieu) on a table richly prepared for such a solemn occasion, and, approaching the bed, leaned his head towards his penitent, and inquired how she felt.
She answered him, "I am very sick, and I want to make a general confession before I die."
Speaking to her husband, she said, with a fainting voice, "Please, my dear, tell my friends to withdraw from the room, that I may not be distracted when making what may be my last confession."
The husband respectfully requested the friends to leave the room with him, and shut the door, that the holy confessor might be alone with his penitent during her general confession.
One of the most diabolical schemes, under the cover of auricular confession, had perfectly succeeded. The mother of harlots, the great enchantress of souls, whose seat is on the city of the "seven bills," had, there, her priest to bring shame, disgrace, and damnation, under the mask of Christianity.
The destroyer of souls, whose masterpiece is auricular confession, had, there, for the millionth time, a fresh opportunity of insulting the God of purity through one of the most criminal actions which the dark shades of night can conceal.
But let us draw the veil over the abominations of that hour of iniquity, and let us leave to hell its dark secrets.
After he had accomplished the ruin of his victim and most cruelly and sacrilegiously abused the confidence of his friend, the young priest opened the door of the room and said, with a sanctimonious air, "You may now enter to pray with me, while I give the last sacrament to our dear sick sister."
They came in: "the good god" (Le Bon Dieu) was given to the woman; and the husband, full of gratitude for the considerate attention of his priest, took him back to his parsonage, and thanked him most sincerely for having so kindly come to visit his wife in so chilly a night.
Ten years later I was called to preach a retreat (a kind of revival) in that same parish. That lady, then an absolute stranger to me, came to my confessional-box and confessed to me those details as I now give them. She seemed to be really penitent, and I gave her absolution and the entire pardon of her sins, as my Church told me to do. On the last day of the revival, the merchant invited me to a grand dinner. Then it was that I came to know who my penitent had been. I must not forget to mention that she had confessed to me that, of her four children, the last three belonged to her confessor! He had lost his mother, and, his sister having married, his parsonage had become more accessible to his fair penitents, many of whom had availed themselves of that opportunity to practice the lessons they had learned in the confessional. The priest had been removed to a higher position, where he, more than ever, enjoyed the confidence of his superiors, the respect of the people, and the love of his female penitents.
I never felt so embarrassed in my life as when at the table of that so cruelly victimised man. We had hardly begun to take our dinner when he asked me if I had known their late pastor, the amiable Rev. Mr. -- .
I answered, "Yes, sir, I know him."
"Is he not a most accomplished priest?"
"Yes, sir, he is a most accomplished man," I answered.
"Why is it," rejoined the good merchant, "that the Bishop has taken him away from us? He was doing so well here; he had so deservedly earned the confidence of all by his piety and gentlemanly manners that we made every effort to keep him with us. I drew up a petition myself, which all the people signed, to induce the Bishop to allow him to remain in our midst; but in vain. His lordship answered us that he wanted him for a more important place, on account of his rare ability, and we had to submit. His zeal and devotedness knew no bounds; in the darkest and most stormy nights he was always ready to come to the first call of the sick; I shall never forget how quickly and cheerfully he responded to my appeal when, a few years ago, I went, on one of our most chilly nights, to request him to visit my wife, who was very sick."
At this stage of the conversation, I must confess that I nearly laughed outright. The gratitude of that poor dupe of the confessional to the priest who had come to bring shame and destruction to his house, and the idea of that very man going himself to convey to his home the corruptor of his own wife, seemed to me so ludicrous that for a moment, I had to make a superhuman effort to control myself.
But I was soon brought to my better senses by the shame which I felt at the idea of the unspeakable degradation and secret infamy of the clergy of which I was a member. At that instant, hundreds of instances of similar, if not greater, depravity, which had been revealed to me through the confessional, came to my mind, and distressed and disgusted me so that my tongue was almost paralysed.
After dinner, the merchant asked his lady to call the children that I might see them, and I could not but admire their beauty. But I do not need to say that the pleasure of seeing these dear and lovely little ones was much marred by the secret, though sure, knowledge I had, that the three youngest were the fruits of the unspeakable depravity of auricular confession in the higher ranks of society.