Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Chestertonian welcome to our new converts!

As I have read on numerous other bloggs, there are several new Catholics out here... in here.. er... with us here in the E-cosmos!! Hurray! - or rather, Alleluia!

It is another of the most wonderful demonstrations of the power of this amazing E-cosmos (that is, the INTERNET) to give us a foretaste of the Communion of Saints! Of course, we have already been much closer than electricity can contrive, by our reception of the Eucharist - but as we are still in the flesh, we need to use the means we have at hand. How strange to ponder, then, as the echoes of "Lumen Christi - Light of Christ!" still resound, that my words are now brought to you by light... And how much more there is to say about this! But I will defer this topic for now.

For I wish to post a Chestertonian welcome to our new converts!

And let no one feel left out, for we are ALL converts. It happens to be over 50 years now for me, but I was a pagan once, before I was baptized, and even now every day I must again turn away from the Enemy and towards our Lord Jesus. Chesterton wrote a whole book about his conversion, so excited he was about it! I will, then, give you just an excerpt, which will enlighten converts old and new.

Happy Easter!
-- Dr. Thursday of the very queerest of the common delusions about what happens to the convert. In some muddled way people have confused the natural remarks of converts, about having found moral peace, with some idea of their having found mental rest, in the sense of mental inaction. They might as well say that a man who has completely recovered his health, after an attack of palsy or St. Vitus' dance, signalises his healthy state by sitting absolutely still like a stone. Recovering his health means recovering his power of moving in the right way as distinct from the wrong way; but he will probably move a great deal more than before. To become a Catholic is not to leave off thinking, but to learn how to think. It is so in exactly the same sense in which to recover from palsy is not to leave off moving but to learn how to move. The Catholic convert has for the first time a starting-point for straight and strenuous thinking. He has for the first time a way of testing the truth in any question that he raises. As the world goes, especially at present, it is the other people, the heathen and the heretics, who seem to have every virtue except the power of connected thought. There was indeed a brief period when a small minority did some hard thinking on the heathen or heretical side. It barely lasted from the time of Voltaire to the time of Huxley. It has now entirely disappeared. What is now called free thought is valued, not because it is free thought, but because it is freedom from thought; because it is free thoughtlessness.

G. K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion CW3:106, emphasis added

"The Convert"

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

-- by G.K.C. Received into the Catholic Church 30 July 1922
A postscript: I find myself thinking over this... in this moment, the sense of a foretaste of the "Inn at the End of the World" (in GKC's The Napoleon of Notting Hill but cf. Jn 2:10) is very strong today. If you have read GKC's The Man Who Was Thursday you will know about the big party where the final climax occurs... GKC wrote that story YEARS before he converted, but it has that feel: all things, created and subcreated, are dancing and rocking back and forth in their joy... Nothing is quite what it had been: EVERYTHING IS RESTORED, BUT BETTER THAN BEFORE, because now the King has returned!


At 18 April, 2006 23:44, Blogger love2learnmom said...

Wonderful quotes and a great reminder. Thanks much!!


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