My Brethren, you know our Lord spoke, when He went away, of coming back, not only suddenly, but soon. Well, in the sense in which I have been speaking, He is ever coming. Again and again He comes to His Church; He ever comes as a strong warrior, bringing in with Him fresh and fresh captives of His arrows and His spear. That same marvel of an inward work in the souls of men on a large scale, which He wrought at the first, He is ever reiterating and renewing in the history of the Church down to this day. Multitudes are ever pouring into her, as the fish into Peter's net, beyond her own thought and her own act, by the immediate and secret operation of His grace. This is emphatically the case now. It is seen on a large scale all over Christendom. Fifty years ago religion seemed almost extinguished. To the eyes of man, it was simply declining and wasting away all through the last century. There were indeed in that century saints and doctors and zealous preachers and faithful populations, as heretofore, but these the world could not see. The political power and social influence of religion was ever less and less; and then at last a European revolution came, and in man's judgment all was lost. But in its deepest misfortunes began its most wonderful rise; a reaction set in, and steadily has it progressed, with every sign of progress still. And in its progress the same phenomenon, I say, reveals itself which we read of in the history of former times; for while the Holy Church has been praying and labouring on her own field, converts, beyond that field, whom she was not contemplating, have been added to her from all classes, as at the beginning. Germany and England, the special seats of her enemies, are the very scenes of this spontaneous accession. To the surprise of all that know them, often to their own surprise, those who fear the Church, or disown her doctrines, find themselves drawing near to her by some incomprehensible influence year after year, and at length give themselves up to her, and proclaim her sovereignty. Those who never spoke to a Catholic Priest, those who have never entered a Catholic Church, those even who have learned their religion from the Protestant Bible, have, in matter of fact, by the overruling Providence of God, been brought through that very reading to recognize the Mother of Saints. Her very name, her simple claim, constrains men to think of her, to enquire about her, to wish her to be what she says she is, to submit to her; not on any assignable reason, save the needs of human nature and the virtue of that grace, which works secretly, round about the Church, without observation.

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