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Thus, as the writer whom I have already quoted puts it: The Church reserves to herself a certain right of discrimination in this matter.
She meets the various devotions that arise with approval or toleration or condemnation, according as she judges them sound in doctrine or the reverse, and helpful or harmful or indifferent to the spiritual life.
and their place in the religious system of which they form a part.
The history of certain widespread devotions plainly shows them to have been awakened in the Church by the action of the Holy Spirit, to meet the needs of souls at various periods of the Church’s life.
In these matters the Church moves with the times; and not to move with her argues a certain failure to realize those teachings of faith that express themselves from time to time in new forms of devotional practice, according as fresh aspects of ancient truths exhibit themselves to her understanding.
Catholic devotions are intended to meet these needs, both common and individual.
Thus it is that we find in the Church so great a variety of devotional practices, some of a more-or-less universal character, coextensive almost with the Church herself, as satisfying wants that are felt by all or by the greater part of the faithful; while others are of less extension as appealing to certain souls only.
This greater or lesser utility depends, as is pointed out in the foregoing extract, upon their source as real manifestations of healthy spiritual life — as originating in devout meditation enlightened by sound doctrine — and on their tried efficacy as instruments in the promotion of a high standard of Christian practice among those who make use of them.