Fishers of Men

\”Come, follow me,\” Jesus said, \”and I will make you fishers of men.\”


Source:  OUR FAITH & THE FACTS, compiled by Rev. C. F. Donovan, M.A., published by Patrick L. Baine of Chicago, 1927 – Chapter 11, pages 229-244. 

The Greek Church

While not classed as non-Catholics, in our consideration of the religious beliefs of our neighbors, still it may be well at this point to explain something of the Greek Church and its different branches.

Greece was distinctly a field for the labors of the Apostles, and, therefore, can be ranked among the earliest of the nations to embrace Christianity. There are many evidences of St. Paul’s work there and St. Andrew, too, is  mentioned, although with less certainty. The Faith planted there flourished for many centuries, uninterruptedly, until about 1054, when a schism arose, fostered by designing men who played upon national prejudices to suit their ends. Previous to this date trouble arose over the deposition of the Patriarch at Constantinople by the Emperor, and the usurpation of that rank by Photius. Knowing that his claim to the position would not be recognized by the Pope, Photius began to take up all the different points which had been the subject of enquiry and discussion for many years in religious circles. Such points as the insertion of the word “filioque,” in the Creed, the procession of the Holy Ghost “ab utroque,” were typical of his trouble making. The world was divided at that time into the Greeks of the East, and the Latins of the western known world, and naturally a difference of opinion would not lack adherents because of this fact. The Pope had just recognized the Franks as Emperors of the West, and  this stirred up political circles. Many such features combined to create the breach which, in time, through the efforts of the Holy Fathers, was healed, in 901.

In 1054 Michael Caerularius led a schism against the Church, using trifling points upon which to inflame the public fancy, such as celibacy, the use of unleavened bread, the wearing of beards and tonsure, all of them insignificant in comparison to the great issues involved, yet they served to again revive the old trouble. This time no efforts on the part of the Pope could heal the difference, and the schism drifted throughout the East, spreading rapidly. And for many centuries the East has been almost entirely separate from the West. Wars and other influences prevented an intermingling, with the result that the Eastern Churches were cut off from the parent establishment at Rome, even up to the present day.

The  Greek  Orthodox  Church

By the Eastern Churches are meant all not using the Byzantine rite, whether separate from or acknowledging the Holy Father. Those separated from the Church of Rome are called the Orthodox Greek Church. They claim to be a unit and to practice Christianity as found in the primitive Church of the Apostles. Yet they are really schismatic. They do not admit, among other dogmas of the Church, Papal Infallibility, the Immaculate Conception and Purgatory. This Church has many divisions, and each one is ruled by its own Patriarch, or President. There are the Pure Greeks, with headquarters at Constantinople; the Arabian Byzantines at Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem; the Orthodox Georgians, non-existent since the conquest by Russia; the Orthodox Slavs, with a Patriarch at Moscow, the largest division, comprising about seventy million adherents, with branches in Servia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Bosnia; and the Orthodox Rumanians, ruled by a Synod. Altogether there are seventeen churches of different languages and nations, held together by common rite, the Byzantine, with a vague and uncertain basis of doctrines, which are becoming more and more imbued with Protestant ideas. They number all told about one hundred million.

The  Greek  Uniat  Church

The other great division of the Greek Church is called the Uniat Greek Church, and includes all the churches of the Byzantine rite, which are in communion with the Church of Rome. This church differs but slightly from the Roman Catholic Church, and acknowledges the Holy Father as its head. The different churches are to be found, in Cappadocia, where are the Pure Greeks, with their Patriarch at Constantinople; the Italian Greeks, who settled centuries ago in Sicily, Calabria and Southern Italy; the Georgians, subjects of Russia, using the American rite and with headquarters at Constantinople; the Greek Arabs (Melchites), with patriarchs at Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem; the Servians, who use the ancient Ruthenian rite; the Bulgarians and the Rumanians, who use the Byzantine rite with services in their own language.

The Uniat Churches were unknown in America until about 1880. Then came the Slavs of Austro-Hungary, bringing their rite with them (Ruthenian). For some years they remained without services until greater numbers brought out their priests. The Slovaks, Ruthenians, Roumanians, Syrians, some Croatians, and some Italians in this country follow the practices of the Greek Uniat Churches. The Ruthenians are perhaps the more numerous than the rest. They come from northern Hungary, Galicia and parts of Russia. The Ruthenian priest must be a great linguist, speaking as he does in some cases five different languages, Slovak, Ruthenian, Hungarian, German and English. The language of the Mass is the ancient Slavonic, authorized in 879 by the Pope. They use the Greek Liturgy as translated by Sts. Cyril and Methodius in 808. Their altar is separated from the body of the church by a high partition, called the “iconostasis,” upon which sacred pictures are placed. The vestments priest, while alike in number and significance, differ in cut, the “chasuble” or outer vestment being shaped more like the “cope” that the priest wears at Benediction. Married men are admitted to the priesthood in Europe, and those priests who are married when they come from Europe are recognized here. But those who are ordained in the Ruthenian rite in this country subscribe to all the conditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Confirmation was administered immediately after Baptism to infants, but this practice has been done away with, and it is now administered at the usual time. Bishops are and have been always unmarried. Organs are not used in the church. The Julian calendar is used in place of the Gregorian calendar in service almost everywhere else. Men and women occupy different sides of the church. They make the sign of the cross in reverse order. In their practices they use a triple form cross. There are about one hundred and twenty priests serving in nearly one hundred and fifty churches in this country, with fifty parish schools. In northwestern Canada there is a large settlement of about fifty thousand Ruthenians and Galicians with five priests and one community of sisters working amongst them. This settlement has suffered by the attempts of non-Catholic denominations to simulate their forms of worship in the effort to win them over to non-Catholic membership.

Various  Branches

The Romanian Greek Church fell away in the ninth century, and they were united again about the year 1760 to the Roman Catholic Church. They number about forty-five thousand people in America, having four priests serving them in their own rite, which admits the offering of the Holy Sacrifice in their own language. They began coming to the United States about the year 1900.

The Syrians began to come about 1886. They fell away with the Greek Churches of Constantinople in the ninth century, being known then as the “Melchites.” They, too, came back to Rome about 1700. Their rite is the same as the other Greek Uniat Churches, except that the language of the Mass and the administration of the Sacraments is in Arabic. They number about ten thousand, having thirteen priests who visit the various congregations in their settlements.

The Italian-Greeks (Albanians) follow a Greek rite established in southern Italy and Sicily in the early centuries, by Greek navigators and traders. This in the course of time gradually changed to the Latin rite in all except the more remote settlements. More Greeks came about the year 1450 fleeing from the persecution of the Turks, and permission was granted them to use their ancient rite, with Mass and services in Greek. Otherwise it is as in the Latin rite. Because of this many so-called Italian Catholics in the large cities of America are of the Greek rite. This explains, in part, their indifference to services in the Latin rite, which was all that was offered them here. They were neglected for a time until priests of their rite could be brought out. The Albanians, who appear so frequently in the press as objects of persecution by the Turks, are of this rite.


It would be impossible to trace the history of the many forms of paganism in the different countries into which it spread, or even to outline thoroughly the existing forms in the world today, without going to greater length than the space of this work permits. No attempt, therefore, will be made to do more than offer an outline of facts of possible interest concerning religious belief in China, India, Egypt, Japan and, though non-existent, the Druidism of ancient Britain. Added to this, although not classified as Paganistic, will be given a brief sketch of Mohammedanism, as necessary to convey an idea of the East as it is known today in religious circles.

The  Religions  of  China

It is stated that the Chinese form of religion came with the first tribe to settle within the limits of the present Chinese Empire. This is claimed for as early as 3000 B. C. Certainly history proves that as early as 2698 B. C., the Chinese venerated Heaven, and the Manes, or Spirits of the Dead. The Supreme Being they called Sublime Heaven, Sublime Ruler, Heaven or Ruler. From this Sublime Heaven, according to their earlier ideas, which are in substance the same as those existing today, came existence, its preservation and its taking away. This Sublime Heaven is the Author of all laws and duties. His is the Judge of all men, rewarding and punishing them. The Emperor is His representative on earth, predestined by Him. Victims, ordinarily an ox, were, from time to time, immolated to Him in sacrifice. The smoke of large fires was considered as carrying aloft their communications to Heaven, and they worried as to whether the Ruler was pleased or displeased with them. They wished earnestly to know the ways of Heaven, looking for signs continually. The Spirits of the Dead, illustrious men of the  nation, were honored as protectors. There was a hazy belief that the soul survived, and for this reason a general worship was offered all the dead. Food, drink and certain stuffs was offered the dead in this worship. Addresses were made, songs sung, drums beaten, bells rung and an extensive ceremony performed. More than that, they believed that their parents for instance, if dead, were punished by the wrong-doing of the living children, and, correspondingly pleased by the good performed.


Fetishism was extensively practiced, and sorcery promoted by the adherents to this form. The word “fetish” was probably first applied to idols and amulets made by hand and supposed to possess magical power. This form of worship was always quite common among the African races, and is no less ancient in the East. It was thought that the souls of the departed took possession of objects such as the ones used in adoration. The vital power belonging to the object in no way constituted the attractive feature of the fetish, yet the spirit, supposed to dwell within, was in some way connected with it. It is this combination of an embodied spirit and the magic to be performed which constituted the fetish. The usual idea of protection to be gained from the use of the fetish is not evident in China, at least not to the extent carried on in Africa where it was used in so many different ways, in medicine, in business affairs, in every walk of life, used in fear and trembling because of the dread visions conjured by those whose business it was to inspire such belief in the universal fetish.

The  Taoists

Taoists was the second of the three state religions of China. It was derived from the philosophical doctrines of Lao-tze. It is an exhibition of ways and methods of living, urged upon men as their idea of the highest and purest development of their nature. The word “Tao” means path or way, and is considered to have reference to the way of the universe. Lao-tze, its founder, was born in 604 B. C., although this fact is not established. He was reputed as a very wonderful person. Taoism conceives the earth as one large organism of powers and influences, a living machine, the core of which is the Great ultimate Principle comprising the two cosmic breaths or souls, known as the Yang and the Yin, of which Heaven and earth are the chief repositories. By co-operating these two influences produce all that exists. Some attributed the idea of two souls to man, the one called breath coming from the ethereal part of Cosmos and separated from the body at death, to return whence it came; the other coming form the terrestrial part if the universe and returning there after death. The abstract doctrines of Taoism suffered considerable change in course of time, yet, up to the last exercising and superstitions, borrowed from their idea of Buddhism, were added. The office of  high-priest descended from father to son because of the belief that the soul of Chang, a legendary being, who lived about the time of Christ, reputed to have attained immortality, was secured to the high-priest by the process of transmigration of souls today, the office of the high priest consists in using his magical art in frightening demons and in baffling diabolical influences of every sort. These are the wonder-workers. There is an inferior class of priests not so especially endowed. Their influence is considerable, having the direct favor of the government. In reality the chief difference between theirs and other forms of native religion is that they multiply the Supreme Being.

The  Suttees

As early as 678, and as some claim in 589, there appeared certain cases of Sutteeism. Men, women, horses and chariots were sent into the other world with their dead master. This was an aggravation of the original Sutteeism, which, among the Hindus, meant self-immolation  for the widow alone. It was entirely voluntary on her part, taking the form of self-destruction on the funeral pile of her deceased husband. The origin of such a horrid custom was unknown. It was not commanded in the sacred books of the Hindus, but they spoke of it as highly meritorius, and as a means of obtaining eternal happiness. In China this custom developed into the wholesale destruction of slaves, with sometimes the enforced destruction of the wife. Another development was that whenever a good or bad fortune occurred to a family of rank, some faithful servant committed suicide in order to carry the news to the family ancestors in Hades.


Confucius is hailed as a wonderful philosopher who evolved a system of ethics, jurisprudence and education, from which was taken much that might be admired in the other systems that prevailed after this time, even in foreign countries. He was a politician who lived about 500 B. C., who speculated on nothing, and even reproved all abstract speculation, all transcendental research. He wished to curb the abuses of government administration by native princes, and to repulse the theories propounded by innovators of his time. He thought with the ancients and believed with them. He believed in Heaven, in the Sublime Ruler, in a Providence, and he proved his faith both by word and deed. He held to the survival of the human soul, to belief in the Manes and in their worship, in transcendant beings whose presence influenced men no good, — in fact, he held to the primitive ideas of his country, not attempting to refute any later theories, simply repelling their conclusions. He aimed at loyalty to his country and at the well-being of the people. He detested arms and war, urging home and family devotion. Guarded instruction was given the people. Confucianism as well as Taoism, which grew up together side by side in China, must be refused the names of religion. They were political systems based on a little natural philosophy, one of which denied God theoretically, the other prescinded from Him in practice.


Buddhism came to China in 65 A. D., from India, its birth-place. Not for some centuries did it exercise any influence. Dissatisfaction with Confucianism in the seventeenth century turned the people to its consideration, and soon after, the whole northern part of China was covered with “pagodas,” as their temples were called. Thousands of priests called “bonzes” spread everywhere, soon making Buddhism the official religion. The tenets and practices of Buddhism are considered elsewhere.


Shintoism, although Japanese in origin, was known in China, coming in 984. It was a mixture of fables which credit the imperial and noble families with descent from ancient mythological heroes and gods. It was supposed to be a revelation to the Japanese emperor, and, when introduced into his country, it pleased the Chinese emperor so much, that, by decree, he declared an ancestor of his to have been none other than the Sublime Ruler of the ancient books. This became the state religion, but did not last.

Confucius had been idolised for more than a thousand years. His works are held almost as sacred. His cult is insisted upon more than ever today, for reasons not so much religious as political. The emperor still sacrifices to Heaven as did his ancestors of forty centuries ago. The cult of the dead is still as plainly superstitious as ever. The moral teaching  is vague and uncertain. Good and evil is not defined. The only incentive to do right in life is that of pleasing one’s parents.

The  Religions  of  India

Brahmanism – Hinduism – Buddhism – Sutteeism – the  Yogas

When the polytheistic conquerors of northern India settled there about 1500 B. C., they had some vague form of religion out of which later grew Brahminism, sometimes called Hinduism. They worshipped many gods in the personified forms of nature forces. Varuna was the chief god, maker and lord of everything. Surya, the sun-god, was the enemy of darkness, known as Pushan, Mitra, Savitar and Vishnu. Indra, the god of the air, sent rain. Rudra was god of thunder. Agni, the fire-god was a public benefactor. Soma was a god who presented them with an inebriating juice which warded off disease, gave strength and even immortality. Small mounts of earth or stones were made originally on which to offer sacrifices to the gods, to present them with strengthening food and in return to ask favors. Animals, fruits and vegetables were common offerings. Hymns and prayers accompanied such sacrifices, usually in charge of the priest or Brahmin, who would be called in by the householder to make sacrifice for him. Expression of sorrow for offences committed, and requests for forgiveness were in order  at such times. Devotion to dead relatives was a prominent element. Feast offerings to them were expected to  keep from harm those who so presented the offerings. The cow was held as sacred. Worship was given to trees and serpents. Certain formulae for healing the sick and driving off demons were in common use. Ordeals were used to detect guilt in offenders.

Later the ceremonies of sacrifice became more elaborate. Temples were erected everywhere. The priests used many forms for the different sacrifices. Fees for such service were introduced. The presence of  many priests made the ceremony sure to secure the desired end. Prayers and rites entered into the daily life of both priest and layman. Writings of the Vedas, or ancient gods of mythology, were recited daily. Other prayers followed. Many forms were used for purifying the body, such as baths, sprinkling, smearing with ashes, etc., efficacious for remission of sin. Heaven was held as a reward for good, yet different fates were predicted for the bad, varying according to the extend of guilt, from long periods of torture in Hell to rebirth into the world, under the form of animals, plants or men. Because of his belief laws were introduced to protect all such lower forms of life. Even insects could not be killed, water must be carefully strained and every precaution used. Manual occupations which brought such forms of life into danger were discouraged — carpentry, basket-making, farming, etc. Ethical training was remarkably high. Temperance, chastity, truthfulness, obedience to parents and superiors and almsgiving were strongly inculcated. Polygamy was permitted as formerly, while divorce was also common. Yet cruelty to animals, gambling and oppressive usury were condemned. Charity towards the sick and aged was in evidence.


Class distinction was a prominent feature, the highest being the warrior, next the priest, then the farmer and lastly the servile class of conquered natives. These developed into castes, that of the priest taking first place, and until later years every man was forced to live in the caste of his father,  following the same occupation, if any. Some attempt was made at education among the upper castes. Marriage was tolerated only among members of the same caste, although a secondary wife might be taken from a lower grade. The practice of the Suttee or self-immolation of the wife on the funeral pile of her husband was urged in all such cases, on the promise of eternal salvation.

There were great fasts preceding the great sacrifices on fixed days. Hermit life was known to both sexes. Asceticism was also practiced, but not to the extent of a later development, Buddhism. The Yogis, who lived by begging, submitted themselves to extraordinary lengths of fasting and mortification. From them comes the idea of concentration upon a fixed object, which they kept up for hours until their meaningless stare lapsed into trance.

The religious fancy of the people in later years created other gods to be associated with the originals as sons or wives. Mythological stories of their adventures are common. Brahma, the personal god, is thus associated with Sivi and Vishnu. Krishna, another hero of dim past, is mentioned in many legends which bear a striking resemblance to the story of the lift of Christ. This is explained as an attempt to borrow something from Christian sources, since these stories did not originate until after the birth of Christ.

Brahminism  of  Today

Today, the influence of Brahminism has weakened. The people have absorbed the grosser elements of low-grade popular worship. The ascetics became fanatical in their zeal. The common people fell lower and lower into superstition and even immorality. Caste distinction was broken down. Rites, common to different cults, have taken the place of the ancient forms, in temples erected in later years to gods of popular fancy. About one hundred million people follow these divisions. About the same number follow the orthodox Brahminism. It was a national religion, which never spread elsewhere, except in the form of Theosophy, known for a time in  England and America.


Buddhism was founded from Brahminism. Buddha was the son of a native prince, a petty rajah in Napal. He was ascetically inclined and spent years in severe self-mortification, fasting and discipline. His preaching included a deliverance from rebirth and the attainment of Nirvana. His followers spread, unlike Brahminists, throughout the East but today are found only in southern India, Nepal and Ceylon. Elsewhere, in northern India, China, wherever Buddhism spread, it is claimed that certain adaptations from the religious ideas of other systems have corrupted the original. The northern India Buddhist worships Buddha as a supreme personal deity.

Primitive Buddhism was very like the pantheistic Vedanta teaching. From this came belief in Karma, by which the character of the present state in life is determined by the good or evil acts of a previous existence. There would be a constant series of these rebirths, they believe, but life at best is misery and not worth living. Their idea practically amounted to fatalism. To obtain deliverance from rebirth, Buddhism taught that all forms of desire must be quenched, inducing a state of mind called Nirvana. Even the desire to preserve one’s existence must be done away with, as well as all thoughts of pleasure or comfort. Life was to be  held in a state of calm repose, indifferent to pain or pleasure. After death, Nirvana was to be realized more completely, an eternally unconscious repose. Some thought this to mean complete annihilation, but the subject was declared by the teachers to be too complete a mystery to be certain on this point. To Buddhists, the ancient Vedas were real gods, but they, too, were subject to decay and rebirth. Buddha was the “perfect one,” superior to the gods, having attained Nirvana. Worship of the gods was tolerated. Heaven and its delights were explained to the people. Ascetic life was favored, bands of monks and nuns being organized. They lived in communities. They were not to  kill any living creature, not to steal, not to lie, not to act unchastely, not to drink intoxicating liquors. They cultivated meekness and other ideas of virtue, yet, ignored God entirely. They avoided sin simply to avoid its consequences. Their desire to attain Nirana and its delights, so often pictured, lead logically to suicide. Married life was held as an inferior state, yet, entered into largely. Buddha himself was reputed to have had many wives. The present head of Buddhism, the king of Siam, maintains a harem. Class distinction was maintained except in community life among the ascetics, so called. Estimates place the number of Buddhists in the world as about four hundred and fifty millions, but China and Japan Buddhists are incorrectly numbered. A more probable estimate is about one hundred million. Confined to narrow territorial limits, the spread of European civilization has brought about its decline, gradually checking its abuses.

Religions  of  Japan

Shintoism,  Buddhism,  Confucianism

Shintoism is properly speaking the religion of Japan. It is a mixture of nature worship and veneration of ancestors, with no code of morals and no dogmas. Its mythology speaks of five gods called Koto Amatsu-Kama. The first three are creators of the universe; the other two have no clearly defined line of action. There are seven generations of heavenly spirits, certain special creators of Japan, and gods of water, rain, wind, thunder, etc. The goddess of the sun, long ago, sent her grandson to reign over Japan and he was the great-grandfather of the first emperor.

The emperor is the high-priest, and more than that, the direct representative, and a descendant of divinity. It is his duty to celebrate the worship of ancestor-gods and to offer intercession to them for his people. His palace was at first the only temple. Ablutions and purifications figured largely in the services. Gifts of the goddess, Amaterasu, were kept in the first temple to be erected, and placed under the direct charge of a princess.

When Buddhism came to Japan in 552, it soon crowded out the primitive Shintoism, by adopting a system which combined happily the elements of both, called Rio-bu-Shinto. This remained in precarious existence until about the eighteenth century, when a reaction against foreign elements, (Buddhism the original, with some additions. Shinand Confucianism) brought a return to toism now added several heroes, emperors and famous men of Japan, to the list of gods favored with adoration. Special honor was also paid spirits of dead soldiers who gave up their lives for the country. Temples were erected in their honor. Tablets containing the names of deceased parents and ancestors are kept in places of honor in the homes. Lights are placed before them every day. Fragrant woods are burned at funerals. Salt is sprinkled on the mourners after returning from a funeral. Cemeteries are cared for as a religious duty. Cremation is permitted, but not insisted upon.

Confucianism, which first came to Japan in 285, continued a precarious existence until the seventeenth century. Its resemblance to Shintoism prevented its previous popularity. It became popular with society about this time and exercised considerable influence, because of its advocation by the learned men of the country. It has since dwindled away.

Today, the emperor still acts as high-priest of  Shintoism, celebrating on the national feasts. About nineteen million Japanese favor Shintoism. Twenty-nine million Buddhists live in Japan, following the decadent system which exists there. There was a fusion of both forms of religion, which has practically ceased to exist. Marriage may be entered into at the age of seventeen for the man and fifteen for the woman. It is not a religious ceremony, nor do the laws of the country stipulate anything concerning it. The poorer classes follow popular customs, which consists in the exchange of cups of wine by the betrothed couple.

The  Religion  of  Egypt

Records of early Egyptian religious ideas are to be found, not in any written record, in book or manuscript form, similar to the Bible or the Koran, but in figured and inscribed monuments found in the temples and elsewhere. These, of course, are incomplete. Probably there never existed a clear or complete system of religious views. The records probably refer to official worship only, ignoring many others in possible existence. By the Pantheon is understood such gods as were officially worshiped. These exclude the spirits which were popularly supposed to animate everything — stones, plans, animals. With some spirits an animal was popularly associated, like the cat of Bast of Bubastes, or the bull with Ptah of Memphis. Certain animals were thus considered as sacred, and came to be regarded as incarnations of spirits, or, at least dwelling places of the Gods, about the nineteenth dynasty (1300 B. C. ).

Primitive Fetishism, which is still very common among the negro tribes of Africa (described in article on Chinese religions), was mitigated in later years, when the deities were supposed to reside in statues combining animal heaps with human figures. The gods and goddesses were supposed to be very like humans, eating and drinking and living in like manner. Each god had a wife and son also deified, making a Triad. There were gods of the dead, Osiris, for instance, who was originally a god of the living, and when killed by his brother, he became a god of the dead. There were gods in the sun and stars, who proved very popular, resulting finally in a form of state religion. He is said to have been the sun-god. Other gods in time become associated with him in popular fancy.


Animal fetishism existed throughout the early periods of Egyptian history in more or less mitigated form. The sun was considered first as a creator of the world, then as organizer of the world from eternally existing matter. Man was believed to be survived in death by a certain principle of life corresponding to our soul. Its nature, and the conditions on which the survival of this principle depended, are depicted on monuments. It was to endure as long as the body, hence the importance of preservation of the body after death, which developed embalming, as a sacred function, to a high degree among the Egyptians, and suggested mummies, many of which exist today after so many years in excellent preservation. Ka, as their idea of the soul was called, must be prolonged in existence at any cost. Statues of the dead ere sometimes made, and enclosed in the stone coffins, to which the Ka might cling should the mummy ever be destroyed. For the use of the Ka, food supplies were invariably placed in the coffin, being renewed from time to time. Weapons for defense, even toilet articles, were sometimes provided. Tombs were called the houses of the Ka.

Like the Ka, the Ba inhabited the body in life, only to be set free to roam at will after death. they had a common abode not unlike the Hades in which ancient Greeks believed. The deceased man’s family was obliged to perform certain rites over the remains to secure for the Ka and Ba admission to this realm. Such rituals of the dead were very ancient. The Book of the Dead is the most ancient in Egyptian literature, receiving, of course, additions from time to time. Piety toward the Gods was the highest development of virtue. Obedience to parents in life and their veneration after death were inculcated generally. Tranquillity in home life, peace in the home, were enlarged upon. It was, at best, only a system of ethical philosophy, in many respects inferior to other systems which prevailed elsewhere.

Druidism  (non – existent)

The religion of the ancient Britons, who were of the Celtic race, was that of Druidism, from their priests the Druids, who were also their physicians and law-givers. This form was common also to Gaul (France) and Germany. The Druids possessed some knowledge of geometry and  natural philosophy in a crude form. They venerated the mistletoe when growing upon the oak, a tree which they likewise esteemed sacred. The high-priest was elected, holding office for life. Certain circles of large stones, in some places consisting of several rounds, are assumed to have constituted their places of worship. Stonehenge in Wiltshire is the  most celebrated in existence. The word and the institution are not Celtic in origin. Great honors were shown the priests, whose religious duties are not well defined, being rather of a social nature. No records of their religious lore has come down to us. Their ritual was kept secret, their services always being held in wild places. Caesar, who wrote of them, says that “the principal point of their doctrine is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body to another.” The nature of this second life is not clear.  Greek authors claim that the Druids borrowed their ideas from the Greek philosophers, using principally the doctrines of Pythagoras. Human sacrifice has been imputed to them, and, if so, is a relic of pre-Druidic customs. It is not certain that they had any gods of their own, nor that they introduced a new divinity into their religion, so called, unless it be Dispater, who, according to Caesar, was regarded by the Druids as the head of the nation. Caesar found them in Britain in 53, B. C., and there is evidence of existence from much earlier times. There is mention of women, known as Druidesses, but they were sorceresses of later date, when Druidism was not in existence. Civilization, which followed in the wake of the Roman armies under Caesar, brought about the decline of Druidism.

Druids  in  Ireland

Records of Druidism in Ireland are obtained from Christian hagiographers, and from casual references in epic literature. The priests appear as physicians, magicians, diviners and teachers, not as representatives of a real religion. They were in the service of kings as  magicians. They were bitter opponents of Christianity, retarding its spread because of the popular belief in their supernatural powers of prophecy and magic. Writers of the life of St. Patrick speak of the presence of Druids. The picture of St. Patrick speaking and explaining his mission to the king and his court on the hill of Tara  shows the Druids. Their opposition to Christianity was not because of any religious feeling, as much as because of the loss of prestige which the adaptation of the new religion meant for them. Druidism is non-existent today.


The religion of the Turks in Europe, of millions in Asia and Africa is called Mohammedanism. Mohammed, its founder, was born in 570, A. D., at Mecca, in Arabia. Preaching his religious views in later life, his eloquence aroused to frenzy the fanatical zeal of thousands, who by force of arms overcame all opposition and took possession of the country. Later, they threatened Europe, until stayed by the activities of the Crusaders, expeditions of Christian Europe, fitted out to recover the Holy Land held by the Mohammedans. The Moors in Spain gave trouble for years until finally expelled by force of arms. While driven from Europe, excepting that part of Turkey which is in Europe, the followers of Mohammed still holds Palestine, the land made sacred by the  life and death of our Redeemer.

The  Koran

The Koran, the sacred book of the Mohammedans is claimed to be the only reliable source of information on the leading events of Mohammed’s life. It is supposed to contain revelations made to him, which concern right living. The tenets of his teaching are likewise found there. They are summed up in a single statement, “There is no God but the true God, and Mohammed is His prophet.” This implies belief in the unity of God, in His Angels, in His Scriptures and His prophecies, as interpreted by Mohammed, in the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, in God’s absolute decree and predetermination both to good and evil. It implies, too, prayer, ablutions and purification, alms, fasting and pilgrimages to Mecca, the holy city. Mohammed was bitterly opposed to the Trinity and to the Divine Sonship of Christ. In his work he numbers one hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets as sent from God, and three hundred and fifteen apostles. Among the prophets he numbers Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Among the Angels he includes Azrail, the Angel of death; the Observers, who spy upon men’s actions; the Travellers, who move about recording the number and enormity of man’s offenses, particularly the abuse of the name of God, as well its proper use. The chief devil is Iblis, and his assistants can afflict the bodies as well as the souls of men, although checked by Divine interference. There are also Jinns, or Genii, creatures of fire, able to eat, drink, live and die, some good, some bad. The torments of Hell and the pleasures of Heaven are sensual and crass. There are seven regions of Hell for different classes of people, the Faithful, as good Mohammedans are called, Christians and others. According to them, God has absolutely decreed and predetermined all good and evil. There is no such thing as the exercise of free will. Their belief on this point amounts to fatalism.

Their daily prayers are five in number, before sunrise, at midday, at four in the afternoon, at sunset, and shortly before midnight. Where necessary, the call to prayer is given by an official, called the Muezzin. Prayers are recited, always, while the face is turned to Mecca, the city of Mohammed. They must be preceded by washing, otherwise, they are fruitless. Public prayer is made on Friday in the mosque. Only men attend this ceremony.  Women seldom pray, even at home. Prayers for the dead are recommended. Fasting is prescribed for certain seasons and commended at other times. Once in a lifetime every good Moslem must visit the holy city, Mecca.

Idolatry, apostasy, false-witness against a brother Moslem, drinking of wine and other intoxicants, the eating of swine’s flesh in particular, and of any other not directly killed for food are strictly forbidden. Religion and the state are not separated. Four lawful wives are allowed at one time, whom the husband may divorce almost at will, although this was forbidden by Mohammned. Seclusion of wives was commanded. Concubinage, said to have been common, is not in evidence today. Slavery is regarded as a necessity. Retaliation for injuries is approved. Abstinence from work on Friday, the sacred day, is not commanded, yet attendance at public prayer is insisted upon. Subjects of the country, not Moslems, have few rights.

The  Dervishes

An interesting confraternity among the Mohammedans is that of the Dervishes. One branch called the Whirling Dervishes perform astounding physical exercises in their interpretation of religion. They recite many thousands of pious ejeculations daily. About two hundred and twenty-three millions of Mohammedans exist at present, of whom about three and one-half millions live in Europe. In America and Australia, through emigration, abut seventy thousand have taken up their residences, all, however, with the earnest hope of one day returning to their native land. While considered in this section, for convenience, Moshammedanism cannot be considered a form of Paganism.

Simon  Magus

This man was a magician who offered money to the Apostles that he might receive from them power to be able to do what he saw them do. He saw that by the imposition of hands the Holy Ghost was given. He said: “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I shall lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost,” (Acts of the Apostles, viii,  19).

The sin of Simon Magus, the magician, is called simony, the selling of spiritualities for money or the equivalent of money. This was the first instance of such sin, which takes its name from the pagan magician who would tempt the Apostles. It is a sin considered elsewhere in this book.


The name, Agape, taken from the Greek word meaning love, is given in St. Jude, Chap. 12, as applying to certain feasts of the early Christians which are described in 1 Cor. xi. They were instituted in part on the analogy of meals shared in common among the Greeks to which each contributed his share. Added to this was the devotional idea of commenorating the Last Supper as well as to server for relief of the poor.

There were certain instances of abuse, even in St. Paul’s time. St. Augustine also condemned mistakes in connection with these well designed practices of Agape. The custom soon dwindled away after its separation from reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Missions  In  Pagan  Lands

“In the name of Benedict, I recommend that missions continue as the responsibility of all, lest even a single soul be lost, owing to failure of any one to give help. Aid to missions is an obligation upon these enjoying the benefits of faith and grace, and who feel it their duty to procure for others the same benefits.” — Pope Pius XI.

There is more than a glimmer of dawn on the horizon of Catholic missioners in all pagan lands. Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, has followed up the memorable encyclical Maximum Ilud of Benedict XV with a new and highly important Motu Proprio. The purpose of this encyclical is the complete reorganization and a vastly stronger development of mission aid, says the Field Afar, organ of the Maryknoll, N. Y., Mission Society.

“Thank God,” we hear thousands of missioners say as a long sigh of relief escapes them, and we add — “May their hopes be soon realized!” No one who has not been in close touch with the conditions existing in the missionary world can realize the timeliness of the movement now being launched from the center of Christendom.

It is too long a story to tell here, but the fact stands that while the Catholic Church had an army of splendid soldiers on the battle front of pagandom, it was not supplying that army with enough of the sinews of war. As a consequence, advantages that were yawning passed or fell to those who are not of the household of the Faith, while men and women who had left all to serve the cause of Christ abroad were forced to stand still and even to withdraw, satisfied to offer their disappointment as the will of God. But how hard it must have been for these heroes of Christ to recognize the will of God, when they knew full well that if the home-lands’ crumbs could be gathered from their fellow religionists, abundant means would be secured to carry on their campaign.

We praise and glorify the martyrs and we cannot appreciate at too high a value their spirit, but the martyrs themselves, especially those who, after a short trial on the mission field, won their palms, would, we believe, urge us to sound more loudly still the praises of those who remained years in exile, seemingly powerless to accomplish that for which they sacrificed all. And the pity of this situation was that it could have been relieved years ago.

Mission  Center  In  Rome

The radical change which has now been affected by the action of Pope Pius XI is the transfer to Rome of the centre of the Church’s great Mission Aid Society for the Propagation of the Faith. This society, until now centered in France, lately commemorated its hundredth anniversary, an event which drew the attention and the praise of the Catholic world.

The French Society for the Propagation of the Faith cannot be too highly appreciated and its place has been second to none among the organized mission-aid agencies of the Catholic Church. Well-meaning friends of the society, and, at times, its own representatives in their glow of zeal and often in ignorance of actual conditions, have sometimes given a false impression that all Catholic missions to the heathen were sustained, even adequately, by this one society — and this statement is far from truth. The society has, however, given much and deserves a great share of credit for what results have been secured in the past century. Besides, it has been a fine object lesson on the power of organization and in the charitable service of a devoted Catholic laity. Pauline Jaricot, to whose good heart and Catholic vision the French Society owed its beginnings, should be ever lovingly and gratefully remembered.

With the transfer to Rome, and the organization of the central council under propaganda and representative of several nations, this work for the propagation of the faith will doubtless take on new life. It will remove the objection of nationalism and will make its appeal for the missions Catholic. It will be under the eyes of the Holy Father, whose strong desire will certainly be noted.



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