The history of Catholicity in Stephenson County, Illinois
Then introduced to a stranger, who is henceforth to be an acquaintance, and perhaps a friend, one's impulse is to study the individual's countenance, to learn from each feature a trait of his character, and to judge from the expression gleaming in the eyes and lingering about the mouth, what sort of a moral and intellectual existence he has based upon that character.
A preface should not only introduce the book to us, but it should aid in that scrutiny of features and of expression which will make the book more than a mere acquaintance, so that we shall begin and continue its perusal in that spirit of friendliness which kindly overlooks imperfection, and, with affectionate pride, slightly magnifies excellence.
What, then, are the features of this little volume, between the covers of which you are about to glance, kind reader? Plain and homely it may be, but clear-cut, and bearing the impress of that honesty of purpose without which no face is truly attractive, no work truly noble. The expression that lights up these features and gives them a beauty, not intrinsically theirs, comes from the spirit of faith, and hope, and charity.
This book is to dwell in each home in St. Mary's parish; it is to be one of the household, a friend who cheers, by recalling sweet and sacred memories of the past, basing on them the still sweeter and more sacred hopes of the future.
If it enters homes in other parishes, it will be as a messenger bearing good tidings of exceeding great joy, and its voice will proclaim the worthy deeds of a noble people, urging those who welcome its message " to go and do likewise."
Thus it is sent forth, as a loving friend to one, as a kind messenger to another; may the welcome accorded it, by one and all, be as heartfelt and sincere as are the sentiments and motives that have given it an existence among the creations of the great literary world.
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In the wonderful life of the Church of God, we find three grand factors: the militant, the suffering, and the triumphant armies of immortal souls. Of widely different characters, yet of almost equal powers, these magnificent factors, through the beautiful alliance of spiritual forces called the Communion of Saints, have effected glorious results which to-day illumine the world, radiating, as they do, from great beacon fires set blazing, (in many a critical epoch of the world's history) by saintly hands on towering mountain heights, and fanned, in our day, to a glowing heat and brightness by the profound thought and sacred eloquence of His Holiness, Leo XIII.