Chesterton, Catholics, and Conversion


#1

I received today my copy of G.K. Chesterton’s “The Catholic Church and Conversion.” The following passage got me thinking: “For the convert’s sake, it should also be remembered that one foolish word from inside does more harm than a hundred thousand foolish words from outside. The latter he has already learned to expect, like a blind hail or rain beating upon the Ark; but the voices from within, even the most casual and accidental, he is already prepared to regard as holy or more than human; and though this is unfair to people who only profess to be human beings, it is a fact that Catholics ought to remember. There is many a convert who has reached a stage at which no word from any Protestant or pagan could any longer hold him back. Only the word of a Catholic can keep him from Catholicism.”

Chesterton captured here something I have been feeling for sometime. A couple of weeks ago I started attending an RCIA class. Yesterday I was reading an article on the sacraments which the priest gave us. As I started reading it I discerned that I was in a very skeptical frame of mind. It was odd because the material was quite good. I realized I was not being skeptical of the Catholic position I was skeptical that the document would not present the Catholic position. I was afraid that a Catholic would try to destroy my Catholic faith. It seems odd but it is true. Catholics may be their own worst enemies. When I read, for instance, “and it [growth in insight] comes from the preaching of those who, on succeeding to the office of bishop, have received the sure chrism of truth.” (DEI VERBUM 2.8) and then read Catholics who talk about how messed up many of the US bishops are, I feel a very real pang of doubt. Chesterton was very insightful.


#2

I know what you mean. I too ran into a similar sitaution in RCIA. There were times when I felt I was more Catholic than the people running it. But, I looked past them to what the Church itself says about itself. Besides, I had been led down the primrose path by religious people more skilled than they could ever be in twisting things around and putting their own ideas forward as “the truth” as a Pentecostal. I guess I had learned from that experience not to look to men but to look to Christ, and as I learned the truth about it, to the Church, which in its divine nature cannot be wrong or misleading.

BTW, have you heard of the annual Chesterton Conference held at the U of St. Thomas every June? It’s a great time for all Chestertonians. I think you’d love it. :slight_smile: Go to: The American Chesterton Society.


#3

I went there last year.


#4

I enjoy Chesterton although his writings can be a challenge at times. His humor is great.


#5

For the convert’s sake, it should also be remembered that one foolish word from inside does more harm than a hundred thousand foolish words from outside

so true!
Chesterton is full of such wonderful insights - his books can be difficult to get tho (in the UK anyway)


#6

so true!
Chesterton is full of such wonderful insights - his books can be difficult to get tho (in the UK anyway)

Fortunately, the great majority of Chesterton’s writings is available online on this great site.

Chesterton really is wonderful. He was a major influence for my own conversion.


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