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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Diary of a Papist Convert: the Anglican Way

Thanks to Father Rutler for alerting me to this splendid (and brief) piece by George Weigel: Converts and the Symphony of Truth, in which the author celebrates the varieties of religious experiences of Catholic converts. It seems the experiences of those converting, not surprisingly, nearly equal their number. Coming as I did, however, from a quasi-WASPy Anglican background, I had most empathy with Evelyn Waugh, who, as Weigel relates, "became a Catholic with, by his own admission, 'little emotion but clear conviction': this was the truth; one ought to adhere to it." Quite so. While I will confess for years having a bit of envy for those who had some dramatic experience, an epiphany of sorts, that suddenly infused them with a true and lively faith, mine was undramatic: a years-long process of discernment consisting of questioning, reasoning, reading, consultation and prayer, eventually leading me to the Catholic Church, with no fireworks. So be it and thanks be to God.

Even more gratifying, though, in Weigel's essay is his description of a common thread running through the diverse tales of conversion:
that men and women of intellect, culture and accomplishment have found in Catholicism what Blessed John Paul II called the “symphony of truth.” That rich and complex symphony, and the harmonies it offers, is an attractive, compelling and persuasive alternative to the fragmentation of modern and post-modern intellectual and cultural life, where little fits together and much is cacophony.
There is no doubt of that. The times we live in are as corrupt, superficial and shallow as they were before my conversion but I find them now just a bit more bearable, armed as I am with the full Catholic faith and the promise of salvation to those who live by Church teachings (not always easy, of course).

Next weekend, I will have the great pleasure of witnessing the reception of an entire Episcopal parish, Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore, and its rector Fr. Catania, an old friend, into the Holy Catholic Church by the newly appointed American Anglican Ordinary, Msgr. Steenson. Priest and parishioners have gone through a period of discernment similar to mine, reasoned and deliberate (it's the Anglican way--I give you Cardinal Newman). Holy Church will be richer than she already is by this happy occurrence and I pray those good people will find themselves enriched as well.

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