Roman Catholicism in Spain

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#Religion #Christian Church
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Excerpt Introduction Variableness of outward practice of Christianity—The like as to that of Mahometanism—Roman Catholicism most subject to that modification—Excesses of Roman Catholicism in Spain accounted for by Spanish history—The Goths and Moors of Africa—Their conversion to Christianity—The aborigines of America—Traditional coincidences with scriptural truth—National character of the religion of Spaniards—Religion of the affections—Santa Teresa—Amatory propensities in connection with religion—Knight-errantry—Motto of Spanish nobility—The four primitive orders—Loyola—Religion the pretext for wars of Spain—Three distinct features of the national character of Spaniards, illustrated by Isabella the Catholic, Charles V., and Philip II. Christianity, although of divine origin, and, consequently, like all that participates in the essence of Divinity, immutable in its doctrines and creeds, submits itself nevertheless, in outward practice, to the incidents common to all human institutions, and receives an impression from the particular character of the people who observe its rites, and subject their conduct to its precepts.  Every religious idea lays hold on the heart and understanding: consequently the state of the affections and the intellectual bias of each nation must communicate to the worship it professes a particular influence, which is seen, not only in the way in which ceremonies are practised, or in the organization of the hierarchy, or in the style and language which man uses in addressing the Deity, but in the entire system of actions, relations, and thoughts, which constitutes what is called worship. Worship participates in the impulse which a nation has received at its origin,—from its historical antecedents,—from its political system,—and from the peculiarities which predominate in the formation of its intelligence.  The Greek polytheism did not distinguish itself from the Roman either in its theogony or its rites; but there is no doubt that the former was more poetical, more artistic, and more scrupulous than the latter.  The Romans, being brought into close contact with all the nations of the earth, and having become subjugated by the insolent despotism of the Cæsars, opened the doors of their Pantheon, not only to the Goths of Egypt and of Gaul, but to monsters of cruelty, and to men sunk in every class of those vices which had stained the throne of Augustus.  The Greeks, lovers of science, had placed their city of Athens under the protection of Minerva; but Rome was too proud to humble herself by playing the inferior part of the protected.  In order to provide for her own security, she declared herself a goddess, and erected her own temples and altars.  The Roman priests were warriors and magistrates; those of Athens were philosophers and poets.  The same observations apply to Mahometanism.  In India it has always shown itself more contemplative, more tolerant, than in Arabia, Turkey, or on the northern coast of Africa, and when it propagated itself in the southern regions of Europe, its stern inflexibility was not able to resist even the influence of clime; the perfumed breezes of the Betis and the Xenil despoiled it, in part, of the austere physiognomy which had been impressed on its whole structure by the sands of Arabia.  Even the severe laws of the harem were relaxed in the courts of Boabdil and of Almanzor, for the wives of those two monarchs, openly, and without shame, took part in the pompous fêtes of the Alhambra and of the serrania of Cordova. Of all the religious systems hitherto known, none allows itself, with so much docility, to be modified by external circumstances which constitute the national character as does Roman Catholicism; and there are many causes for this: Roman Catholicism exercises an infinitely greater dominion over the senses than over the reason and intelligence; the objects of its veneration, of its meditations, and of its devotional practices, are infinitely more various and numerous than those of any other sect of Christians; it introduces itself, so to speak, to all the occupations of life, in all hours of the day, in the trades, professions, amusements, and even gallantries of individuals; it fetters their reason, and deprives it of all liberty and independence; and, above all, it raises up in the midst of society, a privileged and isolated class, superior to the power of the law and the government; into the hands of that class it puts an absolute and irresistible authority, which is exercised by invisible means, but means far more efficacious and terrible in their effects than those of the civil power.  From this universal and irresistible predominance it results that the entire existence of the Roman Catholic is a continual observance of the worship which he professes, and consequently, that Roman Catholicism, at the same time that it entirely modifies man, must of necessity, in its turn, receive, in some degree, the impress of that temper which nature has bestowed upon him.  Thus we see that Roman Catholicism is more zealous, more enthusiastic, more turbulent, in Ireland, more artistic in Italy, more philosophic in Germany, more literary and discursive in France, more idolatrous in the States of South America, more reserved and modest, more decent and tolerant, less ambitious in its aspirations, and less audacious in its polemics, in England than in any other part of the world....
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