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Thursday, January 04, 2007

From the Kirk to the Catholic Church

I came across this ages ago (and now have no recollection where), but only just got round to reading it: the conversion story of Bishop Henry G. Graham, Pt I and Pt II. Beautiful and fascinating stuff.

The new DNB entry for his can be found here, but you probably have to be coming from a network with a subscription to it. I particularly like this: The story is told that when a young woman approached him in church with her head uncovered, he took the biretta off his own head and put it on hers.

From Part II:

I came to the conclusion, therefore, that the Protestant objections to the beautiful in Rome’s worship sprang from false principles in regard to the nature of worship and the nature of man, from a prolonged bondage to the falsities of Calvinism, which had crushed out all love for the sweet and beautiful and attractive. Yet so firmly ingrained in my mind was the notion that, somehow, one could not be genuinely worshiping God with the heart in the midst of so much gorgeous ceremony, and that the Catholic was spending all his devotion on forms and ritual, that I required a long time to emancipate myself from such a delusion.

The truth I now know to be precisely the reverse-- namely, that as a matter of fact, much of the Protestant service is nothing but a respectable lip-service, a mere form to be gone through once a week for the sake of appearance, whereas the worship of the Catholic is the heart’s adoration, presented to God in the most beautiful and perfect manner imaginable. His ritual is fixed; he need never bother his head about it; his whole attention is given, free and undivided, to the inward worship in spirit and in truth, whether he is priest or layman.

Here is, indeed, unity of worship, for it is the same divine Sacrifice and the same liturgy the world over. But yet there is a most wondrous diversity along with it, for every soul has its own particular needs and desires and aspirations and presents them before God with its own words, so that the humble beggar kneeling obscurely in a corner of the great cathedral, who unites with the nobleman and the grand lady--aye, and with the bishop and the pope himself, if he be offering the Holy Sacrifice--is as much a worshiper apart and separate, and dear to the heart and the eye of God, as though there were no other in the wide world.

O truly sublime and wonderful worship of the Roman Church! Beautiful outwardly, beautiful inwardly, made according to the pattern God himself has shown, no marvel is it that so many distracted and tempest-tossed souls have been riveted and fascinated and consoled by it. No wonder that it should have satisfied their heart and their intellect as well as their senses, for Jesus Christ, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," is in it. He is its glory and its beauty, here as in heaven. He is the center of the worship of the Catholic Church, for he is the Sacrifice of the Church. So it comes that half an hour of the Roman Mass excels all the worship of all the heretics throughout the world.