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Reading Into the Church
ic ^ | August 1, 2009 | Deal W. Hudson

Posted on 08/01/2009 2:03:51 PM PDT by NYer

 
 
Reading, said Josemaría Escrivá, has made many a saint. In my own case it has merely made a convert, but I do continue to read ever more deeply into the mystery that is the Church. Thomas Merton, we recall from Seven Storey Mountain, was started on his road to the Church by the accidental discovery of Gilson's The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy in the Columbia University Library. We are foolish to forget the power of the written word.
 
It is said that people don't read much anymore, that we live in a multimedia age, and that the act of reading is on the wane. I don't take these prognostications too seriously. Nothing is likely to replace reading as the most intimate medium of enjoyment and self-examination -- certainly not CD-ROM or the World Wide Web. When we want to change a person's life, we still give him a book, and wait, hoping.
 
Years ago a friend sent me a box of about twenty-five books with "Catholic bomb" written across the side. As I read them one by one, they exploded in my mind, leaving me disoriented and filled with an unfamiliar joy. It was the confusion of knowing that my life was changing forever; it was the joy of heading into an unknown country called the Catholic faith. (I didn't know enough then to call it a strange country, which the Church most certainly is when you enter as an adult.)
 
I had been raised in a Protestant home, and had become an ardent Southern Baptist in college before attending Princeton Theological Seminary. There I read the greats -- Luther, Calvin, Barth, Tillich, the Niebuhrs. I began to realize that the first principle of Protestantism -- ridding the faith of idolatry -- had gone so far as to undermine Christian intelligence. My Catholic bomb was packed with many spiritual and theological books, from the great Dominican Garrigou-Lagrange, and Masie Ward on G. K. Chesterton, to the simple verse of St. Francis of Assisi. With every book, a strong impression received years earlier when I had read St. Augustine's On the Trinity was confirmed: Catholic Christianity embodied the fullness of God's revelation, without the narrowing refractions of other, younger Christian communions. The first principle of Catholicism was indeed the Incarnation, and that centrality shone through all my reading.
 
Reading myself into the Church doesn't mean that I possessed crystalline clarity at every step -- bombs scatter their debris unpredictably. At this stage in my conversion, I was blessed by the good advice of my mentors; they saved me from the fate of a convert friend of mine who was led to read Christ Among Us and lived to tell the tale.
 
As I moved toward the Church, my reading prodded me onward with a series of vaguely related insights. Although I understood only a little of the content of the Catholic faith, I knew that it explained the limitations of the Christian traditions, both liberal Protestant and Southern Baptist, in which I was raised. It would take me years to pass through my own period of protest and grasp the inner coherence of the Church herself. I was a young college professor then, and still reeling from the effect of the bomb when I began to read a Catholic novel every week. By the time I finished this assignment -- luckily I had wise and tasteful tutors -- I would not have dreamed of turning back.
 
There are, in fact, Catholic novels, though certain learned people dispute the fact. I have no comprehensive definition of the Catholic novel, neither would I ever attempt one. However, I happily name a novel as Catholic when it presents to the reader a narrative that embodies some substantial aspect of the Catholic faith. In other words, a Catholic novel is one that ably suggests to its reader our faith's great mysteries. It is those moments of insight, where we catch a glimpse of God's ineluctable providence -- as in, for example, Diary of a Country Priest -- that readers can become pilgrims.
 
Thus, if there is a litmus test for the Catholic novel, it must be whether the novel is capable of conspiring in spiritual conversion. Even if one bears in mind that conversion is ongoing, not at all confined to a Damascus Road experience, this test flies in the face of most aesthetic niceties about the freedom of the writer, the novel, and the audience. It goes without saying that authors who consciously intend to convert their readers probably will end up doing a poor job. That's the trouble with avid readers, like myself, giving in to speculation: We risk encouraging the worst habits of young novelists.
 
The novels that follow helped to convert me and continue to do so, since I go back to them regularly. I have received hardly a protest from the many friends and acquaintances who have sought them out on my advice.
 
 
The Other One
 
The still-active French-American writer, Julian Green, born of a Protestant mother from Savannah, Georgia and a French Catholic father, has riveted my attention for years. Although his novels like Moira and Each in His Own Darkness are better known, it was the obscure The Other One that left its deepest mark on me. This novel, more than any other I know, depicts the hunger for God as the source of all human appetites. I would later recognize this unquenchable desire, with its rich moral implications, in Aquinas's anthropology -- I first met it in Green. Set in Copenhagen, the story follows a recently converted man who returns to a woman he had mistreated some years earlier only to find the results of his immorality much worse than expected. His penitential witness brings about a disturbing but absolutely convincing redemption. Few books have captured the painful death of spiritual rebirth, in both characters, as powerfully as The Other One.
 
 
Kristin Lavransdatter
 
I'm not sure if there is a greater Catholic novel than Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter. If there is, it's probably her other medieval epic, The Master of Hestviken, but I still prefer the more accessible Kristin.
 
I was blessed with a very bad case of the flu the first time I read Undset's trilogy, which kept me in bed for the entire read. My bouts with fever only intensified my connection with the unforgettable characters of this story. Just as movie buffs will argue the comparative merits of Scarlet, Rhett, Melanie, and Ashley in Gone With the Wind, so Undset fans delight in assigning degrees of responsibility to the impetuous Kristin, her loyal father Lavrans, her warrior husband Erlend, and her jilted fiancé, the foursquare Simon. No other novel that I know explores the biblical themes of "the wages of sin" and "the sins of the father" as accurately and charitably as Kristin Lavransdatter. Its impact on the reader, as witnessed in the novel's pivotal role in the life of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, can demonstrate a moral reorientation reminiscent of Dante's Purgatorio.
 
 
Love in the Ruins
 
Don't let it be thought that my reading into the Church was without laughter. This novel by Walker Percy provided the perfect bridge from the existentialism of my graduate school days to the treasure of Catholic humanism. I thought it uncanny that Percy had placed his main character, Dr. Thomas More, in a Dantean landscape faced with a Kierkegaardian choice that could only be mediated by the comic, sacramental resolution of a Catholic vision. It was as if Percy -- and his other novels confirm this -- had already experienced my philosophical and spiritual trials -- he understood that demons inhabit the suburbs of my childhood, and not just the cities and the country.
 
 
Wise Blood
 
If you are familiar with the South, there is also plenty to laugh about in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. John Huston's underrated film of the novel catches many of those moments perfectly, such as when Hazel Motes tells his landlady he is a preacher of the "Church without Christ." She asks suspiciously if that was "Protestant... or something foreign?" Indeed, O'Connor's novel is nothing less than a meditation on the loss of belief in Christ's active presence in the world through the Church and its sacraments. Wise Blood made it clear to me why I was no longer content with the typical Protestant quarterly communion of grape juice done "in memory of me."
 
 
Under the Star of Satan
 
If O'Connor is one of those authors who puts you in the uncomfortable presence of the supernatural, George Bernanos is another. It's too bad that Diary of a Country Priest is his only novel remaining in print, because the others are just as powerful. His Under the Star of Satan is primarily about the special vocation of the priesthood, and its sacramental blessing on all of us. We follow the protagonist Abbé Donissan, modeled on Jean-Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars, as he struggles for the souls of his parishioners, spending hour after hour in the confessional. We see his gift of unlocking the heaviest heart and the price he must pay for it. In the midst of Donissan's battle, we are also reminded not to take the metaphysical notion of evil as privation so literally as to discount its active presence in the world. A film has also been made of this novel, but not as successfully as Wise Blood.
 
 
Brideshead Revisited
 
If there is another novel that wears its moral seriousness as lightly as Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, I don't know it. Perhaps that is why it works so well. Like Charles Ryder himself, the reader is slowly and slyly seduced into the Catholic undercurrents of the aristocratic Marchmain family. The long, final coda of Lord Marchmain's death, his sign of the cross, and the repentant confession of Julia on the staircase distill the choice we all must finally make for or against God. As Julia puts it, in refusing to leave her husband for Charles, "But I saw today there was one thing unforgivable... the bad thing I was on the point of doing, that I'm not quite bad enough to do; to set up a rival good to God's."
 
Here are six of the novels that made me Catholic. There are many others from our rich cultural past I could recommend. And, in fact, we are witnessing a modest revival of good Catholic fiction -- Alice Thomas Ellis, Torgny Lindgren, Piers Paul Read, and Ralph McInerny are among the best. We can only pray that books such as theirs will be found upon the path of some pilgrim finding his way home.
  
 
The Other Books That Made Me Catholic
 
 
The Catholic Vision
 
Augustine, On the Trinity
William F. Lynch, S.J., Christ and Apollo
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae Ia, q. 1–13
Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ
John Henry Newman, Plain and Parochial Sermons
Jacques Maritain, St. Thomas Aquinas: Angel of the Schools
 
 
Beauty & Culture
 
Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord
Eric Gill, Beauty Speaks for Herself
Jacques Maritain, Art and Scholasticism
Julian Green, Journals
Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners
 
 
Sin & Redemption
 
Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil
Correspondence of Andre Gide and Paul Claudel
Jorgen Jorgensen, Autobiography
Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
Dante, Purgatorio
Morley Callahan, Our Lady of the Snows
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Treatise on Sin, 1a2ae, q. 71–9
 
 
Agape & Eros
 
Martin D'Arcy, The Mind and Heart of Love
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone
Joseph Pieper, About Love
C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Etienne Gilson, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy
Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Treatise on Love, 2a2ae, q. 23-46
 
 
Reason & Revelation
 
Aristotle, Ethics
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Treatise on Law, 1a2ae, q. 90–7
G. K. Chesterton, The Dumb Ox
Mortimer Adler, The Angels and Us
Joseph Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Cornelio Fabro, God in Exile
 
 
Church & Sacrament
 
Documents of Vatican II
Henri de Lubac, Catholicism
Jacques Maritain, The Peasant of the Garonne
Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine
Matthias Scheeben, Mysteries of Christianity
 
 
Saints & Sanctity
 
Léon Bloy, Pilgrim of the Absolute
Julian Green, God's Fool
Raissa Maritain, We Have Been Friends Together
Jacques Maritain, Notebooks
Jean Leclerq, Love of Learning and the Desire for God
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life
 

Deal W. Hudson is
 the director of InsideCatholic.com and the author of Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon and Schuster).


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Theology
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1 posted on 08/01/2009 2:03:51 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Would anyone care to add to Hudson’s list?


2 posted on 08/01/2009 2:04:44 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse de Lisieux (Saint Therese Little Flower)

"Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."

3 posted on 08/01/2009 2:25:42 PM PDT by La Lydia
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To: NYer

**My Catholic bomb was packed with many spiritual and theological books, from the great Dominican Garrigou-Lagrange, and Masie Ward on G. K. Chesterton, to the simple verse of St. Francis of Assisi.**

Great start!


4 posted on 08/01/2009 2:31:28 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: NYer

fantastic! thank you again.


5 posted on 08/01/2009 2:35:04 PM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: NYer
Padre Pio: The True Story: Bernard C. Ruffin
 
Padre Pio: The True Story

6 posted on 08/01/2009 2:35:41 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: NYer

“A Man for Others” now out of print — but maybe you can find a used one somewhere — about St. Maximillian Kolbe.


7 posted on 08/01/2009 2:36:52 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: NYer
Good grief. It would take a lifetime to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" this reading list.

This is VERY heavy going, by and large. Lewis's books are always a (deceptively) easy read, but hardly anyone else on the list can be read casually. You'll have to bring your brain and use it.

8 posted on 08/01/2009 2:42:30 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: La Lydia
The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse de Lisieux (Saint Therese Little Flower)

St. Therese is one of my patron saints. Last Christmas, my daughter gave me that book as a gift. Only days after finishing it, I clicked on one of the blogs I read on a regular basis and this image stared back at me.

The blog thread was about the artist, Leonard Porter, who refers to this as an American icon. Without hesitation, I purchased the print and had it beautifully double matted and framed. It now hangs prominently over the mantle of the fireplace. Should you be interested in acquiring one, here is the link, to his web site.

9 posted on 08/01/2009 2:44:58 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
You do know that C. S. Lewis was not Roman Catholic? The idea that only Roman Catholicism has an incarnational theology is simply wrong. You say that you studied Martin Luther, but if you did, you need to get your tuition back.
10 posted on 08/01/2009 2:45:16 PM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: AnAmericanMother

**This is VERY heavy going, by and large. Lewis’s books are always a (deceptively) easy read, but hardly anyone else on the list can be read casually. You’ll have to bring your brain and use it. **

My analysis, too. Some heavy reading in there — but a couple of fun-fiction books too!


11 posted on 08/01/2009 2:45:39 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: AnAmericanMother; NYer

I would recommend that all read “Left to Tell” about the genocide in Rwanda by Imaculee Ilibagiza. What I am currently reading.

What an eye-opener — (and I complain about my suffering??)


12 posted on 08/01/2009 2:47:09 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: Nosterrex
You do know that C. S. Lewis was not Roman Catholic?

C S LEWIS Conversion Story

13 posted on 08/01/2009 2:48:51 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

Gorgeous print. I have a statue of her.


14 posted on 08/01/2009 2:49:41 PM PDT by La Lydia
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To: La Lydia

Also the “Diary of St. Faustina.”


15 posted on 08/01/2009 2:51:03 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: Salvation
I'm reading that book right now!

Two weeks ago on Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Sunday Night Live program, a caller recommended that "everyone", regardless of their faith, read this book + St. Faustina's Diary. I totally agree!

16 posted on 08/01/2009 2:51:14 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

I would also add Scott Hahn’s book, “The Lamb’s Supper.” He does a great job of tying the Mass, the Book of Revelation, and the Catholic viewpoint together.


17 posted on 08/01/2009 2:53:29 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: NYer

I read about five books at a time. One for Adoration, one for the car, one for the couch, one for my purse that I read when I wait in line at the grocery, etc. store, one beside my bed.....etc. You get the idea.

Diary of St. Faustina is one that I currently do not know where it is, but my Confessor often assigns passages from it or from Story of a Soul to read as a Penance.


18 posted on 08/01/2009 2:56:28 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: Salvation; AnAmericanMother
Some heavy reading in there — but a couple of fun-fiction books too!

What about Chesterton's "Father Brown" books. Those are supposed to be great fun. I recommended them to the parents of my teens, as summer reading.

19 posted on 08/01/2009 2:57:39 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: Salvation
I read about five books at a time. One for Adoration, one for the car, one for the couch, one for my purse that I read when I wait in line at the grocery, etc. store, one beside my bed.....etc. You get the idea.

God bless you! How do you keep track? Reading in the car???

20 posted on 08/01/2009 2:59:23 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: La Lydia
Gorgeous print. I have a statue of her.

She is such a beautiful saint! Especially her 'simple way'. Here's a book you might enjoy. I could not put it down.


What was the early Church like? Contrary to popular belief, Rod Bennett shows there is a reliable way to know. Four ancient Christian writers—four witnesses to early Christianity —left us an extensive body of documentation on this vital subject, and this book brings their fascinating testimony to life for modern believers. With all the power and drama of a gripping novel, this book is a journey of discovery of ancient and beautiful truths through the lives of four great saints of the early Church—Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyons.

21 posted on 08/01/2009 3:02:38 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
Oh, yes. The Father Brown books are Chesterton at his most entertaining, and they always have a kernel of truth at the core.

I think my favorite is "The Oracle of the Dog" -- not only because it involves a Black Lab, but because of the spectacular ending:

"People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other. It's drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it's coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition." He stood up abruptly, his face heavy with a sort of frown, and went on talking almost as if he were alone. "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can't see things as they are. Anything that anybody talks about, and says there's a good deal in it, extends itself indefinitely, like a vista in a nightmare. And a dog is an omen and a cat is a mystery and a pig is a mascot and a beetle is a scarab, calling up all the menagerie of polytheism from Egypt and old India; Dog Anubis and great green-eyed Pasht and all the holy howling Bulls of Bashan; reeling back to the bestial gods of the beginning, escaping into elephants and snakes and crocodiles; and all because you are frightened of four words: 'He was made Man."'

The young man got up with a little embarrassment, almost as if he had overheard a soliloquy. He called to the dog and left the room with vague but breezy farewells. But he had to call the dog twice, for the dog had remained behind quite motionless for a moment, looking up steadily at Father Brown as the wolf looked at St. Francis.


22 posted on 08/01/2009 3:02:49 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

As I said, he was not Roman Catholic. He never took formal steps to become a Roman Catholic, and there is nothing in his writings that indicate that he had such leanings. Since he is dead, it is impossible to ask him if he planned to convert to Catholicism. Since he never did, I wouldn’t put him in the Roman Catholic Church just yet. Of course, this had never stopped people from putting all sorts of converts in the church of Rome. I guess after Billy Graham dies someone will say that he converted to Catholicism.


23 posted on 08/01/2009 3:03:45 PM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: Nosterrex; NYer
Lewis was about as Catholic as it is possible for a man raised as a Northern Irish Protestant ever to become. He believed in Purgatory, and in the Real Presence, but he never took that last step. I think given his upbringing it was impossible.

But a man who is a professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature, and who loves his work as Lewis did, moves in a Catholic world and breathes Catholic air, will he or no. As Cardinal Newman said, 'to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant'.

24 posted on 08/01/2009 3:08:14 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

Excellent post.

No book list is complete without a reading of Ratzinger’s “On the Way To Jesus Christ” and “The Apostles.”

But clearly, Ratzinger’s most definite thesis on why salvific hope lies only through the Catholic Church is in his tour-de-force publication “Iesus Dominus”

All Catholics need to give this a careful read.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html


25 posted on 08/01/2009 3:09:54 PM PDT by Steelfish
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To: Nosterrex
there is nothing in his writings that indicate that he had such leanings

Read Letters to Malcolm and Mere Christianity carefully. In the first he specifically states his belief in Purgatory. In the second, he refers to our neighbor as "the holiest object - besides the Blessed Sacrament itself - that presents itself to our senses."

You can hold Catholic beliefs without a formal conversion (a lot of folks are headed for heaven that way.)

26 posted on 08/01/2009 3:11:10 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Steelfish
Yep. (If you don't believe, why bother?)

Fortunately it's not our call as to who will recognize that Truth and accept it. As Lewis himself said about the Final Judgment - "there will be surprises."

27 posted on 08/01/2009 3:14:06 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

The accounts of various converts from other non-Christian denominations shed useful insight.

Here’s an explanation given by Gov. Bobby Jindal (aka brainiac boy wonder who got admission to both Harvard Law and Medical Schools and was the hands down first candidate selected for the Rhodes Scholarship)

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2305996/posts


28 posted on 08/01/2009 3:14:15 PM PDT by Steelfish
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To: NYer

Reading in the car when I am stopped in traffic or waiting for a train to pass. If I don’t have a book, I say Hail Marys. Sometimes with over 10 Hail Marys!

Keep track> Simple. I use a Holy Card with a prayer on one side and a picture on the other. I always place the picture side of my bookmark/HolyCard toward the page I finished on. I will re-read a little to refresh my memory and go on. LOL! (I know, I’m crazy!)


29 posted on 08/01/2009 3:15:47 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: AnAmericanMother
According to his biographical information he considered himself an Orthodox Anglican until his death. If you want to make him a Roman Catholic, be my guest. To base C. S. Lewis’ conversion to Catholicism on the Screwtapes is laughable. By that process you could make Charles Manson into a convert to Catholicism. I guess it never occurred to you that you don't have to be Roman Catholic to have a profound faith or a brain.
30 posted on 08/01/2009 3:28:29 PM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: NYer

The books that kept me a joyful Catholic are not weighty, but are wonderful:

“Grandmother and the Priests”, “Dear and Glorious Physician”, and “Great Lion of God” all by Taylor Caldwell. The first one is a grand collection of celtic stories that will remind you of when priest were real men. The second is about St. Luke and the third is about St. Paul.

“Mr. Blue” by Myles Connolly is a wonderful old story about a modern St. Francis.

I read all these when I was in my early twenties and they have never left me.


31 posted on 08/01/2009 3:44:09 PM PDT by Melian ("An unexamined life is not worth living." ~Socrates)
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To: Nosterrex
'Scuse me, did I mention Screwtape? Completely inapplicable here. Lewis said writing it gave him spiritual cramp because he was trying to think like the Enemy. I referred you to two specific citations in two specific works in which Lewis affirmed two points of doctrine generally considered Catholic.

And, when you say "Orthodox Anglican", exactly what do you mean? You have to understand that Anglicanism encompasses everything from the most pared-down plain Puritanism to Catholic-in-all-but-name.

I know because I used to be one, and I was a serious student of Anglican thought and philosophy. When we converted to Catholicism, we found that the only matters on which there was need for a change in affirmation were two: the validity of Anglican Orders and the supremacy of the Pope.

Admittedly we were at the "high" end of the spectrum, but so was Lewis.

32 posted on 08/01/2009 4:06:07 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Salvation
I also find it very handy to keep a book and a Rosary in the car. I have a couple of spares in my purse, but keeping a Rosary on the gearshift reminds me to pick it up!

We live 2 blocks from a very busy RR crossing, so I spend a lot of time waiting in line there.

33 posted on 08/01/2009 4:08:46 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Nosterrex

How much of Lewis’s work have you read?


34 posted on 08/01/2009 4:10:47 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

Bump to self for later viewing.


35 posted on 08/01/2009 4:15:20 PM PDT by Hoosier Catholic Momma (Arkansas resident of Hoosier upbringing--Yankee with a southern twang)
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To: Melian
“Grandmother and the Priests”, “Dear and Glorious Physician”, and “Great Lion of God” all by Taylor Caldwell.

Ahhhh, dear friend, you have just stumbled upon one of the greatest fans of Taylor Caldwell!!! My favorites include "The Listener" and most especially, "Dialogues with the Devil".

36 posted on 08/01/2009 4:17:10 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: Steelfish
Jindal's conversion story is truly inspiring. Now here is one of the most amazing conversion stories I have ever read. His book is also an excellent read.
37 posted on 08/01/2009 4:20:39 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

“The Listener” was very good. I used to scour thrift stores for her books and found quite a few. I’ve never read “Dialogues with the Devil” so I’ll keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the recommendation.

(I’m such of fan of Caldwell’s, I named one of my daughters Taylor, long before the name was popular for girls!)


38 posted on 08/01/2009 4:39:58 PM PDT by Melian ("An unexamined life is not worth living." ~Socrates)
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To: NYer

“The Listener” was very good. I used to scour thrift stores for her books and found quite a few. I’ve never read “Dialogues with the Devil” so I’ll keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the recommendation.

(I’m such of fan of Caldwell’s, I named one of my daughters Taylor, long before the name was popular for girls!)


39 posted on 08/01/2009 4:39:58 PM PDT by Melian ("An unexamined life is not worth living." ~Socrates)
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To: NYer
Roy Schoemann's story makes inspiring reading.

If God spoke to me so directly, I would probably just fall over dead from sheer terror.

40 posted on 08/01/2009 5:00:36 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

“In This House of Brede” by Rumer Godden

A deacon in our parish in Oklahoma had a Catholic bookstore, and I often had him order books for me, or he would just order things he thought I’d like and tell me to come get them. One day, I ran in (kids in the van) to pick up a Scott Hahn book, and as he was ringing it up, I said, “If reading made you perfect, I’d be it!” He said, “Yeah, me too. See you round the Big House!”

He meant Mass the next day, but we went out of town for the weekend, and he died very suddenly before the next time we attended Mass at St. Benedict’s. I figure if I don’t blow it, I’ll see him in the library of the “Big House” eventually ;-).


41 posted on 08/01/2009 5:12:40 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("If the worst that Barack Obama does is ruin the economy, I will breathe a sigh of relief." Sowell)
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To: NYer

Thanks, that was a truly gripping story!


42 posted on 08/01/2009 5:14:19 PM PDT by Steelfish
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To: AnAmericanMother

I’ve read many of his books. I appreciate his apologetics on the Moral Law, and his “The Abolition of Man” is probably my favorite. While I was at Cambridge, I met a few of his students, although I was not a member of Lewis’ college. Lewis is your typical “broad and hazy” Anglican layman when it comes to theology. He is a gifted writer and philosopher. This helps explain his popularity among a broad spectrum of theological beliefs. Although Lewis was friends with a number of Roman Catholics, he was liturgically somewhere between Evangelicalism and Methodism.


43 posted on 08/01/2009 6:49:06 PM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: NYer

I read “Four Witnesses” by Rod Bennett.

It was very good and deserves more than just your one single mention.
So I’ll be the second person to recommend it.


44 posted on 08/01/2009 6:57:44 PM PDT by Molly K.
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To: Nosterrex
As an adult, I came at him not from the apologetics but from his professional work - the Oxford History volume, The Discarded Image, and the lectures that became A Preface to Paradise Lost. Those works are (of necessity) more Catholic in tone, even the last because he was looking more at the influences on Milton than Milton's own religious philosophy.

But how you can say he is on the Evangelical/Methodist continuum perplexes me. What Evangelical or Methodist did you ever meet that believed in either Purgatory or the Real Presence? My dear grandfather-in-law was a Methodist minister, and either of those doctrines would have curled his hair. And Lewis as an Evangelical is about as likely as Anthony Trollope as one. I would think the shadowy Presbyterianism of the Church of Ireland a far more likely influence on his Anglicanism (especially after reading The Pilgrim's Regress).

45 posted on 08/01/2009 7:59:17 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother

First of all, I don’t believe that he actually believed in purgatory although he did mention it in one of his books. His last book was written with a totally pagan context, and yet I don’t believe that he was promoting paganism. I think that people read way too much in his fictional writings. I went to Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge and later to St.Chad college in Durham, which is a college for Anglican priests. There are many Anglicans, especially the Anglo-Catholics, that believe in transubstantiation and purgatory. I have also known Anglicans that were strict Calvinist and would not be caught dead in a cathedral. You have to understand that Anglicanism is so theologically broad that you can believe anything that you want. I know of an Anglican priest in Northumbria that is an atheist. Anglicans group themselves according to their liturgical practices: the low and lazy, broad and hazy, and high and crazy. The low church group reminds me of a typical Methodist worship service. From what his former students told me, he preferred worshiping in the chapel at Magdelene than the Cathedral. Magdelene was a sort of low church college. Lewis did find the cathedral at Durham inspiring, and it is. There is nothing like worshiping in a thousand year old Romanesque Cathedral. Sadly, only a handful of people are there on Sunday. I’m not even Anglican, and I never missed evensong or Sunday service.


46 posted on 08/01/2009 8:25:24 PM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: Nosterrex
OK, I found the actual quote. It isn't in a fictional work.

"Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age, the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to him?

I believe in Purgatory.

Mind you, the Reformers had good reasons for throwing doubt on the 'Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory' as that Romish doctrine had then become.....

The right view returns magnificently in Newman's DREAM. There, if I remember it rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer 'With its darkness to affront that light'. Religion has claimed Purgatory.

Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'

I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don't think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. . . . The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much.

My favorite image on this matter comes from the dentist's chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn and I am 'coming round',' a voice will say, 'Rinse your mouth out with this.' This will be Purgatory. The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. The taste of this may be more fiery and astringent than my present sensibility could endure. But . . . it will [not] be disgusting and unhallowed."

- Letters to Malcolm, ch. 20

You can see that despite his reflexive horror for the "Romish" targets of the Reformers, he is undoubtedly believing in the doctrine as taught (rather than the perversions of that doctrine that exercised the Reformers).

As for the "pagan", are you talking about Til We Have Faces? It's only pagan in the sense that any English student educated in Lewis's generation was steeped in Classical paganism - until P.P.E. came in.

I myself was a sixth-generation Anglican (my ggg grandfather was baptized at St. Giles Cripplegate) until they drove us away with their antics. The Anglican low-middle-high political solution worked fine until the atheists and radical leftists took over the church. (That low-and-lazy, middle-and-hazy, high-and-crazy quote is one of my dad's favorites! We were 'high' not to say ultramontane, or as dad also says, 'up in the rafters with the bats'.)

Maybe American Methodists are different, but I don't think so. I never mistook a Low Church service in England for a Methodist meeting. Around here there's no mistaking the difference -- John Wesley early in his life was pastor of a church in Georgia, Christ Church Frederica. It's your typical Southern 'low church' Episcopal parish - no smells, no bells, heavy on the preaching and light on the ceremony. When we were still Piskies we attended regularly while visiting my parents, who live there.

Now there's a huge Methodist conference center, Epworth, just down the road, I'm sure they put it there because of the association with Wesley. The tour buses loaded with Methodist pilgrims come through regularly and stop at the church. If their arrival happens to coincide with Morning Prayer they always come in and sit at the back. We just HAD to laugh because they were completely nonplussed at what was going on and couldn't understand why Wesley's church was holding some kind of weird non-Methodist service.

47 posted on 08/02/2009 5:27:29 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother

You are right. I stand corrected. Even so, that does not make him a Roman Catholic. There are many Anglicans that believe in purgatory, but that does not make them Roman Catholic. I will say this. Based upon Lewis’ book, “God in the Dock,” he would probably be Roman Catholic today. The Anglican church’s ordination of women to the Holy Ministry would have pushed him out of the Anglican communion.

Thanks for setting me straight on Lewis’ belief in purgatory.


48 posted on 08/02/2009 5:37:13 AM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: Nosterrex
Oh, no, you could never reasonably expect a man born in 1898 in Belfast to become an actual Catholic! My only point was that he held Catholic beliefs, I was not contending that he was an actual convert. What was it he said about meeting Tolkien - that he had been warned never to trust a Papist or a philologist, and Tolkien was both . . . .

Lewis would have had kittens over what the Anglicans/ Episcopalians have become. He was already sufficiently horrified at the early warning signs such as Honest to God - I remember the controversy over that one myself. He was definitely opposed to the ordination of women (typical Lewis quip went something along the lines of - if you've got a problem with your neighbor, wouldn't you rather deal with the man of the house? And, ladies, when your husband is dealing with the neighbors, don't you think he's too easy on them? In fact, a bit of an Appeaser?)

While he might have become Orthodox, from a social/cultural point of view that would be difficult for an Englishman so maybe he would have become Catholic. But I don't know. That early upbringing is hard to overcome.

I think that one of the great attractions of Lewis is that he is so much the via media not only of Anglicanism but Christianity generally, that everybody - of whatever denomination - can find some point on which to claim him as their own. Except of course for the way-out extreme fundamentalist folks you find in certain corners of the web who claim he's a Satanist . . . .

49 posted on 08/02/2009 5:54:47 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother

I agree with you. Lewis seems to be on a spiritual pilgrimage. He goes from atheism to theism to Christianity. I have no idea where he would eventually end up if he were alive today. I have a couple of friends that go gaga over Lewis. Steve Mueller, who now teaches at Christ, Irvine, did his dissertation on Lewis’s Christology. I was at his oral defense, and the question about Lewis’ belief in purgatory never came up. I wish that I had known about this, for I would have asked him about it.


50 posted on 08/02/2009 6:26:47 AM PDT by Nosterrex
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