Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/779

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RECENT RECRUDESCENCE OF SUPERSTITION.

and then let them take care of themselves in a large pond or lake of suitable temperature, and, if the water is not infested with sunfish, perch, and other enemies which are beginning to look for food in the spring when the young trout is also looking for its first food, there is every prospect of success.

 

RECENT RECRUDESCENCE OF SUPERSTITION.
By Prof. E. P. EVANS.

IN 1879 a Catholic professor of theology in the University of Bonn, Dr. Heinrich Reusch, published a little volume entitled Die deutschen Bischofe und der Aberglaube (The German Bishops and Superstition), in which he called attention to the vast increase of superstitious beliefs and observances within the Catholic Church since the middle of the present century, and to the official approval and promulgation of them by the highest ecclesiastical authorities. He animadverted severely on the extent to which this tendency had tainted the religious literature most widely diffused by the clergy among the masses of the people, and censured especially the pious pamphlets and periodicals issued by the Jesuits, such as Monat-Rosen zu Ehren der Unbefleckten Gottes-Mutter Maria, and Der Sendbote des götthichen Herzens Jesu, both of which are edited by disciples of Loyola at Innsbruck under the auspices of the Bishops of Salzburg, Brixen, and Trent, and with the benediction of Pope Pius IX. In these monthly sheets one would seek in vain for a moral maxim or practical precept inculcating kindness, truthfulness, and honesty in the common relations of life, but their pages are filled with records of miracles wrought and demons discomfited by consecrated medals, chrisms, holy waters, sacred scapularies, seraphic girdles, and relics of the saints.

During the fifteen years that have elapsed since Prof. Reusch uttered his earnest protest against this gross abuse of sacerdotal functions and spiritual power, the evils which he lamented and endeavored to correct have grown decidedly worse. In Germany the most important of the influences and events that have contributed to this deplorable result was the so-called Kulturkampf, or antagonism of the state to the Church in the interests of modern culture as opposed to the arrogant claims of a mediæval hierarchy. The inevitable effect of this conflict was to consolidate the forces of ultramontanism and to render them supreme in the papacy, to bind priests and people more firmly together, and to