Powers of Man

By A member of the Catholic Church

As I sat in the sweet sanctuary of St. Paul’s Cathedral my mind began to dwell on the Christian teachings about the subject of dietary, and the great rush of a divine compassion overwhelmed me.

It is a fearful and wonderful mystery that anyone with an open Bible, and still more, with a crucifix before him, can possibly cling to the idea that the cruelty involved in flesh-eating can be anything but an horror and an abomination.

There are many workers against vivisection who are, nevertheless, flesh-eaters; and this is, most probably, the reason why their well meant endeavours fall so short of result. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of any good cause in which they may be engaged, and unless anti-vivisectors can make up their minds to exercise self-denial with regard to flesh meat it is hardly likely that the public at large will support them, to any great extent, in their crusade against the other form of cruelty.

“So fond of animals!” Then, good friends, why eat their dead bodies, and thereby bring upon them such awful, inconceivable agony? The love we really bear to any object is in exact proportion to the self-sacrifice we are capable of for the good of the object loved. Is it not so?

We constantly hear “I don’t like Fruitarian food and it does not suit me.” Have you given it a fair trial after a scientific and common-sense fashion?” Have you made a real attempt to study what suits you and what does not? Fruitarians may have, if they will, a different dinner every day of the week, of three courses each. The number of penny books that will tell you how to set about this is legion, and the shilling guide, sold by our Order, gives full information on the subject of a health diet. Surely you cannot be so unique in your formation that out of all these hundreds of dishes, of fruit, vegetables, nuts, grain, you cannot find some suitable to your necessity.

A good plan for church people is to begin in Lent, on the two days that the whole Church Catholic, east and west, from apostolic days till now, has forbidden absolutely flesh meat. If at the end of the week you still survive, then extend the same regime to three or four days; should no dissolution then be immediately feared, extend the change of food to the whole of Lent. Yours will be a curious case if at Easter you cannot, with a gladder heart and quieter conscience, receive into your soul the All Merciful, Who, through the Bread and Wine, instituted the holy, pure, and bloodless sacrifice, which replaces all sacrifices of bulls or of goats.

In the ages to come, long aeons hence, I fear, every home will be a church and every meal a sacrament. Is it possible to conceive “that the living Bread, Who came down from Heaven,” would use the dead body of one of His slaughtered creatures as a vehicle of His grace?

Is there no sin in disobedience? St. Paul tells us, speaking through the Holy Ghost, that the Church of the living God is the pillar and ground of the truth; and he absolutely ordered the Thessalonian part of the church “Withdraw yourselves from any brother that walketh disorderly and not after the tradition that he hath received of us.” And it is from this same tradition that we have received instruction concerning the abstinence from blood food.

Is there no sin in cruelty? How about the command “Be ye merciful as your Father which is in heaven is merciful?” Can we fancy the Divine, or even a saint, persisting in pleasing his palate at the cost of suffering, of such awful torture, to others, such awful demoralisation to human beings, as is implied by the existence of slaughter houses, especially in America and England.

Is there no sin in injuring “the temples of the Holy Ghost” as St. Paul calls our outside coverings? We are responsible to our Maker for our body as well as for our soul. Have we any right to mar His property, to make our own husks diseased and unclean, so that the ego cannot rise and do its daily work there as He would have it done? Overwhelming evidence shows that through eating dead bodies we do this.

Is there no sin for immortal spirits, raised through the incarnation to a more than angelic union with the Divine, if we will have it so, to build up such a coarse opaque covering round the ego that it is quite impossible to see the things of the spirit through it?

Is there no sin in introducing among the loving kind-hearted nations of the East the flesh eating that, when they take to it, is a short and easy road to demoralisation?

Is there no sin, in fine, in the self-love that will sacrifice others, soul and body, to its bodily appetite?

In what way are persons who act thus, superior to the vivisectors, since both sacrifice their own souls, as they sacrifice the bodies of others, on the altar of “self-ease, self-appetite or self-glory.”

The Herald of the Golden Age, Vol.7, No.3, March 1902.