Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Belloc - Ekklesia as Home

Tomorrow my students - and the candidate for the Sacrament of Confirmation whom I am sponsoring - will participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And if any skeptic needs more proof of a loving, redeeming God than the illative fact of his or her own existence (and awareness of himself or herself as a being of sinew, bone, organ, and mind - mind!), I give you one of a very few master writers of the 20th century, Hiliare Belloc.
The Faith, the Catholic Church (the two were inseparable for him - and me), is discovered, is recognised, triumphantly enters reality like a landfall at sea which at first was thought a cloud. The nearer it is seen, the more is it real, the less imaginary: the more direct and external its voice, the more indubitable its representative character, its 'person', its voice. The metaphor is not that men fall in love with it: the metaphor is that they discover home. 'This was what I sought. This was my need.' It is the very mould of the mind, the matrix to which corresponds in every outline the outcast and unprotected contour of the soul. It is Verlaine's 'Oh! Rome - oh! Mère!' And that not only to those who had it in childhood and have returned, but much more - and what a proof! - to those who come upon it from over the hills of life and say to themselves 'Here is the town.' The true is proved by analysis and demonstration where there are to hand - where they are not, by direct vision: as is our proof of daily things and their reality. When vision again is lacking, how can it be proved? By its other aspect in the triune definition: by Beauty and by Goodness.

The Faith has Beauty and nothing has it so fixedly, permanently, pointingly. It is a Beauty ambassadorial and determinant, a proving Beauty. And it has Goodness, in this time of ours more marked than ever by contrast. It shines with, produces, supports, promises and reveals Goodness. I say again, it is a person to be discovered and not to be merely loved: a plenitude of excellent experience. Not only satisfaction, but conscious satisfaction. Satisfaction reasonable and final. You know the phrase 'Sero cognovi?' It expresses it all. And that other phrase the little teacher wrote me years ago which was a revelation to me and which I have quoted too often: 'Secure within the Walls of the City of God'.

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