Should converts have a place in the Church?

Recently in the Catholic media there have been a few opinions voiced regarding the place of converts in the church.

One article I recall, a non germane “expose” regarding Pope Francis and the reception of the pontiff by converts to the faith, speaks brazenly of an opinion that converts dare not hold. Of course, because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

It is disgusting that an author speaks ill of his fellow Catholics in such a way. Regardless if one is a convert, or like myself, a ‘cradle’ Catholic: we are one in faith, one in belief. There is no hierarchy of “catholicness.”

If you ‘google’ around and research the recent articles from the more progressive left, you’ll find a similar critique of orthodox Catholics and converts, again implying a separate level of belonging.

Question: who are some of the greatest of our saints? Were they not converts?

Remember: evil is benign at first.

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Faithful Before Thee

Faithful before thee, Mother of God, now kneeling,
Image miraculous and merciful — of thee
Not for my soul’s health nor battles waged, beseeching,
Nor yet with thanks or penitence o’erwhelming me!

Not for myself,– my heart with guilt o’erflowing —
Who in my home land e’er a stranger has remained,
No, a sinless child upon thy mercy throwing,
That thou protect her innocence unstained!

Worthy the highest bliss, with happiness O bless her!
Grant her a friend to stand unchanging at her side,
A youth of sunshine and an old age tranquil,
A spirit where together peace and hope abide.

Then, when strikes the hour her way from earth for wending,
Let her heart break at dawning or at dead of night —
From out thy highest heaven thy fairest angel sending
The fairest of all souls sustain in heavenward flight!

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The Grace of Time

There is no tear, no scar nor wound, neither is there any embarrassment or humiliation that the balm of time cannot heal. For time itself is a form of grace: to persevere, to inspire hope for what has not yet come, and console us as we rest in the prison that we have built for ourselves. Because, in time, that prison dissolves and falls around us. Then we can walk freely and embrace the seconds of grace freely given to us. And when we understand that everyone we meet, brush arms with, or lock eyes with, has time to their own to fall and rise, and to wrong and resolve, then our understanding of humanity; the brokenness of our flesh and desire; becomes the light through the rubble of our choices as individuals. What time we give of ours so that it may become another’s, begs us to love our friends and neighbours because we share that same ache, that same inclination towards utter imperfection. That no man is greater than the next in the human condition, but with grace and time, we can become holy and grow our resolve to resist our desire towards self satisfaction. When we practise and grow in virtue, we know it is right to rather act in pursuit towards that which is authentic and true. With depth of understanding comes depth of love: and this is a divine love, because it comes from God alone who loves each one of us.

– from my exposition for the first day of University classes. Cameron dP O’M.

Accepting Suffering

On the other hand, whoever bears firmly in mind the thought of final divine justice and projects the light of life eternal upon the obscure paths of earthly life, will not be uncertain as to the way. Modern light-houses function in this manner in cloudy weather. They do not project their light forward, out onto the open sea, but upward, onto the dark clouds. And the clouds, which otherwise would envelop the horizon in darkness, thus reflect the lighthouse gleam for more than a hundred miles. Our faith, too, projects the glow of eternal life upon the clouds of our earthly paths, because it knows that otherwise suffering cannot be endured. It cannot be endured, except with the consolation given by the knowledge that this is not the final word in our lives.

Man was not created by God for affliction; he was created for happiness. Every particle of us longs for happiness. Mary Magdalen was great when she wept repentant tears at our Lord’s feet, but this was not the final part of her journey, not the final word in her life. That moment of supreme bliss was when the risen Christ said to her: “Mary.” The Blessed Virgin was great when, with grief-stricken soul, she stood under the cross of her divine Son. But the final halting-place of her journey could not be the Stabat Mater; it is the Regina coeli, laetare, “Rejoice, Queen of Heaven.”

– Fr Thamer Toth: The Great Redeemer – Acceptance of Suffering

How He Loves Us!

He found it hard to focus on the light, because the strength and depth of the void between them was far too blighting, far more gentler, and slightly more beautiful than the stars which mapped the heavens.

Water moved below his feet, slapping against concrete, holding the River Thames together. Finite, finished, feeling. “Oh just to plunge, to drown – to fall into the depths of darkness and complete this earthly journey…”

The young man prayed, and Jesus came. Consumed by divine love and ardour, he took up his pen. Then he wrote a hymn, words of hope and an expression for reason. A true reason, the only reason for to live.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Samuel Trevor Francis is the author. Although a member of the non-conformist Plymouth Brethren, as a lay preacher, his sentiments are contained in no ecclesial community specifically, and reign in the fulness of truth when we consider the profound truth of Christ’s holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Perhaps if Francis were a member of the Church, he might have been completely consumed in the fire of Divine Love, with access to the Body and Blood of our loving Saviour himself.

I love this hymn. Quite often I find myself lost in the void of darkness, carrying the burden of a sadness so inhibiting and burdensome that I wonder if I can carry on until the next day. I have never been suicidal, because it is the love of God alone who guards me from those thoughts. It is my faith that drives me, because I know that God wants every individual here on Earth for a divine reason. I know I am loved, and I know who is my master, and it is not myself.

“How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!” How true are these words! How He loves us! Each Sunday we are privy to His own flesh and blood, soul and divinity!

Though unworthy, how He loveth! 

To all who carry their cross, never despair. Always hope, and if you can’t hope, pray. Then you will be given the grace to hope. Never stop praying.

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The Good Shepherd – Voelkel

Cars don’t fit in Coffins

Eventually, eventually, we travel our way through life and learn to love those we love for whatever their meaning is to us. Sometimes the memory of unrequited love becomes a theme to our lives, and we stay attached to what we couldn’t have as if we had already had it but it was torn from us with great force.

Perhaps, we fall in love with a thing; a favourite toy or keepsake, perhaps with sentimental value. Perhaps it was a moment in the sand of time, a glimmer in which we saw heaven or felt the flames of hell. Then, we are stuck with that recollection through all the rest of the days in our short lives.

But when our last breath draws nigh and the angel of death descends at our last hour, we cannot say “ah just wait, I need my bracelet.” No, we take nothing of our earthly possessions. We leave all things unclaimed, for it matters not then. Our fate is eternal, and though the Lord might send us on a purgatorial quest on earth to some final battle or cleansing fire, we will never again require that which we had previously owned. We see this in the saints, who before us, have perfected humility and non-attachment. It is a virtue we ought to pray for now, since our attachment to the physical object in our ownership is a defining feature: it decides how people look at us, how we compare ourselves to the ‘other’, and which social class or societies in which we mix.

To be truly poor is to be rich. Consider how the great perfect imitator of the Sacred Heart, St Francis, abandoned all his wealth and nobility to pursue true love of his common man, exercising therefore a great understanding of the human condition and of God’s great goodness and love. He one said, “…if you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” Does this mean to say then that the greatest possession we can obtain is virtue? I think so. In Aristotelian flavour, we can only become virtuous if we practise those virtues. This, we take to the grave because it is the key by which we open Heaven’s gate; it is the seed by which grace is planted and infused by God. Yet, by asking God for His grace, He gives us these virtues, through the hands of His Most Blessed Mother.

Now, this is not to say at all that being rich is at all a vice. Quite the opposite, in fact. Money is not a problem, it is the use of currency which is – its theft, by communism, being a major evil in this world. But, our wilful use of our riches to afford the poor a better living? A true commandment of Our Blessed Saviour, in true imitation of Him.

“Dies Irae” is a text commonly sung at Requiems and at the Office of the Dead. The second verse reads as following:

What horror must invade the mind
when the approaching Judge shall find
and sift the deeds of all mankind!

We don’t hear enough of this, do we? He is to sift the deeds of all mankind. And through which gate will we enter? I pray one with angels and saints.

 

The Banality of Hell

This evening at the vigil Mass, we had a visiting priest – or rather, a priest originally from our town returned to offer Mass. He was always very intelligent: spiritually, theologically, liturgically. His heart truly carried each word of the beloved sacrifice to his lips, visibly stirred his soul.

Now, for a long while we have been under the, um, regime of a rather particular vicar who years ago was silenced for speaking out in support of same-sex marriage™ but somehow was reconciled to stable ministry. Today, during the intercessions, I watched a pleasant rouge fade to a placid grey as the intercessor, through no fault of his own, beseeched us all to “pray for people of all faiths, that we may come to know the truths in all the religions of the world.” This was quite a trick on behalf of our regular parish priest; an intentional shot from the arrow of contempt for good and solid theology, and the sensibility of a pious priest.

Notice the wording. I trust my memory in this case, because it disturbed my conscience that we as Catholics should be praying for others to basically remain pagan and not led home to the truth of the Church. Notice the banality of it – for people of all faiths – know the truths in all the religions of the world – we could interpret that in various ways, really. But the common individual would hear “all religions are equal and good.” In addition, one could think that by virtue of the word “truth”s perhaps it really is a plea for conversion, as the truth can only be found in one spot in fullness; a thing cannot be half true or a quarter truth. But the Church, in her holy wisdom, does not deny that people of diverse belief can come to know some truth: quantity vs. substance.

But recall the nature of ourselves: somewhat genteel, or possibly selfish. We often tend to follow the crowd, as the pack mentality consumes our more definable individuality – we see this in the world: the rise of socialist politics and self-entitled teenagers whining because they refuse to work for an education and want it on the taxpayers wallet, or, the “public purse.” See how they riot? In New Orleans a group of protestors wanted to tear down a statue of St Joan of Arc, confusing her with some civil war figure or other. Notice this new iconoclasm of sorts? History repeats itself.

But now, more than ever, we ought to be apt in claiming the truth of God’s glorious redemption; His redeeming love, and His Mother’s role in salvation. Now, more than ever, in this age of nihilism and absurdity – we should strive to lead souls HOME to Christ, not confirming their position in Buddhism. We were warned by the Lord to not be lukewarm.

There is truth. Let’s stick to it. Why are we so adverse to obedience? Why do our own members reject our own teaching! We need to pray. We need to love and protect and pray for our priests and bishops. They are how God communicates with us, and those men are whom God chose to be His soul-keepers.