|BARON FRIEDRICH VON HÜGEL|
I had a long talk recently with a dear friend who has gone back to the Episcopal Church as he does not feel the Catholic church is a healthy place for him to be right now. Part of me wanted to say Who ever said being a Catholic is about "health!"(“Since the day of my conversion, I have never been well”: St. Francis of Assisi).
The other part has to know that he may well be exactly right. I am reading Baron Friedrich von Hügel's Letters to A Niece (battered library copy) (Flannery O'Connor read and liked them). The baron (1852-1927) loves the Church, TOTALLY gets the Church: that it is a trial, that it is glorious, that it COSTS.
And yet, or because of which, he also says you should almost discourage people from converting because if you try to persuade them and they’re not ready it can be disastrous. They leave forever or become lukewarm. I myself have never entertained the slightest hope of converting or even real desire to convert anyone. Though at the same time I of course wish with all my heart that everyone would be converted. It’s just that I know beyond the shadow of a doubt it would not be through me. All I can do is say I love Christ, I love his Church, which has revealed himself to be the center of everything. I don’t have to justify or defend or promote, which is good because I wouldn’t know how to.
Anyway Baron von Hügel gives the same advice basically that Msgr. Albacete does, which is (I’m paraphrasing) Continue on as you are. Give everything you have to being the best Buddhist or Hindu or agnostic or whatever you can be...
Here are some excerpts from his letters:
"God has never left the world in complete and groping darkness; all religions contain some light from God. They are all from him. It is an awful idea that souls who cannot have known Our Lord should be debarred from God. None of the saints have believed that"…
"The most subtle enemy of religion is humanitarianism. If Christianity is true, there must be abiding consequences. We can’t get rid of it, it’s all in the Gospels. Our Lord speaks of it several times. His message is an immense warning to us here and now, a terrific alternative. You must see that. If you read the Gospels and give that up, I don’t know what you see."
"Sometimes I ask myself—the wisest, deepest men I have known—are they not all Roman Catholics? Yes, they are…You can’t be a Roman for nothing. There is a tension here, a heroism, an other-worldliness. If you don’t feel it, then it’s your fault. There must be some change in you."
"The touching, entrancing beauty of Christianity, my Niece, depends upon a subtle something which all this fastidiousness ignores. Its greatness, its special genius, consists, as much as in anything else, in that it is without this fastidiousness. A soul that is, I do not want to say tempted, but dominated, by such fastidiousness, is as yet only hovering round the precincts of Christianity, but it has not entered its sanctuary, where heroism is always homely, where the best always acts as a stimulus towards helping towards being (in a true sense) but one of the semi-articulate, bovine, childish, repulsively second-third-fourth-rate crowd. So it was with Jesus himself; so it is with Francis the Povorello; so it is with every soul that has fully realized the genius of the Christian paradox. When I told you of my choking emotion in reading, in St. John’s Gospel, that scene of Jesus, the Light of the World (that He is this, is an historic fact), as the menial servant at the feet of these little foolish fishermen and tax-gatherers, what do you think moved me but just that huge, life-and-love-bringing paradox, here in its fullest activity? The heathen philosophies, one and all, failed to get beyond your fastidiousness; only Christianity got beyond it; only Christianity. But I mean a deeply, costingly realized, Christianity—got beyond it: Gwen will, some day, get beyond it. It is, really, a very hideous thing; the full, truly free, beauty of Christ alone completely liberates us from this miserable bondage."
|ST. PAUL IN PRISON|
(the angels got him out!)