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A COURSE OF PLAIN INSTRUCTIONS FOR THOSE
ENTERING HER COMMUNION.
REV. JOHN B. BAGSHAWE,
“THE CATECHISM, ILLUSTRATED WITH PASSAGES FROM
THE numerous conversions of late years to the Catholic Church in this country have given rise among some Catholics to the idea that the return of England to the Ancient Faith is imminent. In confirmation of this it is urged that there has been a rapid increase in the number of our clergy, of the religious orders, of Church fabrics, of schools, and of new missions. It is further contended that, while bitter prejudice against our Faith is disappearing from the minds of our countrymen, an intelligent and earnest spirit of enquiry about our doctrines is abroad. All indicating, say these sanguine believers, the fast approaching submission of England to the See of S. Peter. Fondly do I desire this were so; but if I read the signs of the times aright, I cannot but conclude that the conversion of England is yet far off. The Church in this country is indeed striking her roots deeply into the soil, and spreading her branches, day by day, in every direction. She is laying her foundations sure, but it is for a structure to be built in times to come.
The experience of the past appears to me to bear this out. For it may be fairly questioned whether, in proportion to the population, the Catholic Body has numerically increased within the past twenty years. It is the opinion of many of the older and more experienced of the clergy throughout the country that the losses we have sustained by our former want of elementary schools, by mixed marriages, and by the fewness of our priests and missions, have scarcely been compensated for by the number of converts.
And, assuredly, when we look to the state of religious thought in the marvellously diversified sects which surround us, there is still more reason for doubting the immediate conversion of England. It is certain the High Church party is preparing thousands whom we could never reach, for submission to the Church. To the High Church clergy is due the honour of carefully administering the Sacrament of Baptism, of teaching more accurately the doctrines of