Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/421

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

self-abnegation, and, more than anything else, his childlike faith in the teachings of his youth, his firm, unshaken conviction, and his beautiful trust and repose in his religion, his Church, and his God. With him it was a fixed fact, a never faltering attitude of his mind, and when, by his literary associations, he was thrown with men who were doubters, agnostics, and disbelievers, his faith was as sublime, his conviction as unshaken, and his devotion as constant as when he learned the lesson at his mother's knee. Though I have seen him in many trying situations, surrounded by dangers and beset by troubles, I have never known him to relinquish his reliance upon the Higher Power whose bounteous love and ever watchful care his own character confessed and glorified.

"His was a practical religion; he, of all men, made the Divine injunction of unselfishness the rule of his daily life, and never have I seen a more self-sacrificing character, a more self-abnegating spirit, and a more watchful regard for the comfort and interests of others, than was exhibited in John Boyle O'Reilly."

Such was the impression left predominant in the mind of one not of his race or religion, after years of close association with O'Reilly. The least bigoted of men, he yet carried the sign of his Faith with him wherever he went, as simply and unostentatiously as he did that of his country; for he was unassumingly proud of both. A writer in the Atlantic Monthly quotes from O'Reilly's correspondence with a Western friend on the same theme:

And yet your letter makes me smile. Puritan you, with your condemnation of the great old art-loving, human, music-breathing, color-raising, spiritual, mystical, symbolical Catholic Church! . . A great, loving, generous heart will never find peace and comfort and field of labor except within her unstatistical, sun-like, benevolent motherhood. J., I am a Catholic just as I am a dweller on the planet, and a lover of yellow sunlight, and flowers in the grass, and the sound of birds. Man never trade anything so like God's work as the magnificent, sacrificial, devotional faith of the hoary but young Catholic Church. There is no other church; they are all just way stations.