Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion
Book One - The Church of the Conquerors
And now let the reader leap three thousand years of human history, of toil and triumph of the intellect of man; and instead of a Hebrew manuscript or a Babylonian brick there confronts him a little publication, printed on a modern rotary press in the capital of the United States of America, bearing the date of October, 1914, and the title "Salve Regina." In it we find "a beautiful prayer," composed by the late cardinal Rampolla; we are told that "Plus X attached to it an indulgence of 100 days, each time it is piously recited, applicalble to the souls in purgatory."
O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, cast a glance from Heaven, where thou sittest as Queen, upon this poor sinner, your servant. Thou conscious of his unworthiness.... he blesses and exalts thee from his whole heart as the purest, the most beautiful and the most holy of creatures. He blesses they holy name. He blesses thy sublime prerogatives as real Mother of God, ever Virgin, conceived without stain of sin, as co-Redemptress of the human race. He blesses the Eternal Father who chose you, etc. He blesses the Incarnate Word, etc. He blesses the Divine Spirit, etc. He blesses, exalts and thanks the most august Trinity, etc. O Virgin, holy and merciful ... be pleased to accept this little homage of your servant, and obtain for him also from your divine Son pardon for his sins, Amen.
And then, looking more closely, we discover the purpose of this "beautiful prayer," and of the neat little paper which prints it. "Salve Regina" is raising funds for the "National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception," a home for more priests, and Catholic ladies who desire to collect for it may receive little books which they are requested to return within three months. Pius X writes a letter of warm endorsement, and sets an example by giving four hundred dollars "out of his poverty" - or, to be more precise, out of the poverty of the pitiful peasantry of Italy. There is included in the paper a form of bequest for "devoted clients of Our Blessed Mother," and at the top of the editorial page the most alluring of all baits for the loving hearts of the flock - that the names of deceased relatives and friends may be written in the collection books and will be transferred to the records of the Shrine, and these persons "will share in all its spiritual benefits." In the day's of Job it was with threats of boils and poverty that the Priestly lie maintained itself; but in the case of this blackest of all Terrors, transplanted to our free Republic from the heart of the Dark Ages, the wretched victims see before their eyes the glare of flames, and hear the shrieks of their loved ones writhing in torment through uncounted ages and eternities.
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