25 February 2013

A Great Love Affair

Monsignor had a really good homily this Sunday. It began by referencing and quoting the post The Catholic Church Young People Actually Want, which I mentioned in this post. I really love how that sort of thing works out, honestly. He highlighted our desire for the good, the true and the beautiful and reflected on how our parish seeks to address these desires in the hearts of our college students.

Monsignor went on the quote G. K. Chesterton, which I have found is never a bad thing. His chosen quotation I had never heard before but find it fascinating for several reasons...

"It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair." – G. K. Chesterton
First: The first sentence confused me when I heard it. How is it impossible to be just to the Catholic Church? I certainly am aware that many are highly critical (which often stems from great ignorance) of the Church, but surely there's some good, objective sort of view one can take, right? I am still not entirely certain how to interpret this part, but I can understand it as saying that one cannot be unbiased toward the Catholic Church: one either hates it or loves it. (But then justice also implies holding to the truth, which is certainly in the Church, so I'm still working through this bit.)

Second: While the second sentence was interesting to me, I felt disheartened. The moment men cease to pull against the Church in order to feel a tug towards it can only happen if man can cease for but a moment. It is not so unfortunate to fail to show someone your reasoning as it is heartbreaking knowing they cannot see the truth you lay before them. It is even more-so when you suspect the only thing spurring their animosity so greatly is their pride. This portion reminded me of another Chesterton quotation: "I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread." Men will wander, but they will be compelled by curiosity and homesickness and respond to the quietest and subtlest of beckons.

Third: Again, in the third sentence one can only hope for the happy resolution if anti-Catholics can cease for a moment, be still and take note. How many conversations have you had with another person about Catholicism in which they could not understand your point because they were too concerned with their interpretation or misconception of the Church? How often do we ourselves miss the truth of the Church because of the cluttered babble in our own mouths and tingling doubt in our own heads? "Be still."

Fourth: Oh, did this fourth sentence hit me with its weight in truth. "I just want to know about it and figure out what the differences are and why they're there," I innocently remarked, now years ago about Catholicism. As a Baptist, I did not know much about other religions, let alone other denominations within the Christian faith. Catholicism was a mysterious world to me, with beliefs I either didn't know or didn't understand. My curiosity, thank the Lord, brought me closer to the Church. As if I were constantly peering around a corner to find a brilliant light source, I ventured along with a brow furrowed with questions and uncertainty slanting my mouth. But, as if this light was bobbing before me in mid-air, I saw a spark of truth which I could not deny: I could only become more intrigued by it until I finally realized that this light was the most dazzling and beautiful I could ever experience on this earth. Soon, I began to love Christ's Church with all my heart. Which brings me to...

Fifth: The most beautiful love affair that ever was: Christ and His Church. Even now in my apartment, quiet save my fingers on the keyboard, I am at once overwhelmed by thankfulness and a feeling of being most undeserving of the mysterious and magnificent Church Christ has established. Of course, His Church on earth is not now perfect in every way: its men and women still sin and are won over by selfishness, but He has given us the tools to attain everlasting life which we will live with Him, the spotless Lamb, the Victor, the most important man who ever lived and died (this is not an Arian remark). His incredible love has inspired the most eloquent writers and insightful musicians and has left me marveling at the Crucifix in awed wonder at its immensity.

I love my Lord, Jesus Christ, and I love the Church He has established. I love all the saints, most especially His Blessed Mother. After this "great love affair" of conversion, all I can produce is a heart of gratitude. I never want to be the person I was before I stepped faithfully toward the Church. People are compelled toward the good, the true and the beautiful. God is the greatest of all of these qualities and His Church here on earth is only a shadow of the Church which will one day be united with Him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.


  1. The meaning of the first sentence should be clearer if one inserts the word "merely" immediately prior to "just." That is, Chesterton means to say that one cannot be just to the Church without also being charitable and deferential to her, at least in due time.

  2. Your insights are wonderful and your post is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this to us. If we develop our relationship with God, you will never have to ask for more and will only be grateful of what you have. All good things will follow. May God bless you Haley. :)

    1. Every day I am a little more pleasantly surprised at how awesome the Church is. G. K. Chesterton puts things in a lovely, thoughtful way. Thank you for your comment, Erin. :)