Sound common sense about 'why I am still a member of the Church' By Mgr. Gordon Wheeler
BORN CATHOLICS, assembled by F. .1. Sheed (Sheed and Ward, 125.6d.).
THESE 19 essays assembled by
F. J. Sheed give the reasons why their authors, though born of Catholic families and brought up as Catholics, remain members of the Church.
Some are better than others, but each has its own widely different terest. Indeed, the variety of approach and wealth of experience are surprising and revealing. Surprising, because we tend to think that it is conversion to Catholicism alone that has its drama. Revealing, because the accent is on the individual rather than the group.
This is extremely refreshing, for generally speaking it is the convert who is the individual and the "born Catholic" who is just one of the mass. Mr. X the convert has a fascinating story to tell. Mr. Y the "cradle Catholic" is of no particular interest for he has always had the faith.
That is a fairlygeneral notion. So much so that there arc many cradle Catholics who wish they had been converts and say to people like myself : "Of course, you converts always make the best Catholics."
That to my mind is nonsense and has always been nonsense. And I think I have the Church's teaching on my side when I say so. Obviously the greatest of all gifts in this life is the gift of the Faith. And the longer you have had it, as far as I can see. the better. If you have drunk in the Faith with your mother's milk, so to speak, and have received the grace of all the Church's sacraments from the earliest possible moment, you will not only have, generally speaking, a balance and integrity but you will have literally grown up in Christ.
WE are creatures to some extent of our emotions, but these are merely an incidental part of life (though God knows they can make great havoc or great good) and I ant very impatient of those cradle Catholics, usually the less thoughtful ones, who see in the emotional crisis of conversion to the Faith something as important as the Faith itself. These are escapists. They are missing the wood for the trees and fail to realise that God has entrusted them each individually with the pearl of great price in the fullest possible manner. As a convert I have always greatly valued and appreciated the sane and balanced and generally unemotional approach of born Catholics to the Faith. It is of the very air they breathe; a second nature to them as well as being supernatural. I would be the last to underestimate the grace of conversion to Catholicism and the limitless profusion of gifts which the good God heaps upon us. One cannot attach too much wonder and importance to all this. On the other hand, I cannot help feeling that born Catholics sometimes forget to express a gratitude and wonder for the limitless graces that are theirs and through the great love and tenderness and mercy of God have always been theirs, and that they have been singled out individually no less (nay, far more in one sense) than the converts.
GENERALLY speaking, there is no such fault in this book. I like the sound common sense of some of these essays, especially perhaps those of Bernard Wall, Jean Chariot and Maisie Ward.
And as I said at the beginning. one is filled with surprise and awe that God has made all His children so different. Yes. horn Catholics as well. For their life stories make it transparently clear that Catholicism neither regimentates or stereotypes. Each nature is different and grace far from destroying the individuality perfects it and so you have in holiness and infinite diversity.
Year of Plays
THEATRE WORLD ANNUAL (LONDON) NO. 5, by Francis Stephens (Rockliff, t8s.).
AN admirable and colourful record (abundantly illustrated) of the theatre in Logdon from June, 1953. to May, 1954. "The Prisoner," "The Return" and The Bad Samaritan," all plays of particular Catholic interest produced in this period, are represented among a wide selection.
SWEET Is WAR, by Malcolm Munthe (Duckworth, 15s.). THE son of the author of "The Story of San Michele'. has here written a book that is well able to stand on its own merit. and it is perhaps a pity that the book jacket reminds us of the connection before we read the book.
It is a war story and a personal one. but even so. modest. The book has humour and joie de vivre, but above all it is human.
In a worthy tradition.