I love this.
I love this.
Did I mention that I love this?
I found it excerpted in one of the best books I've ever read, The Spirit of Catholicism, by Karl Adam. It has stayed in my head for well over a decade. It's a description of the Catholic Church, written by 19th century English historian Thomas Macaulay. I thrill to his words. Read them slowly, savor them:
There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church.
The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre.
The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable.
The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour.
The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila….
Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all.
She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca.
And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.There is no earthly explanation for the fact that the Catholic Church, grounded in the office of the papacy, survives and thrives after 20 centuries.
And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
-- Matthew 16:18
Jesus Christ is a Man of His word.