‘I have been a Catholic for less than six months and already it is difficult to understand why I did not submit thirty-eight years ago. The slowness with which I saw the truth; the misconceptions, which were only partly the result of my heredity and upbringing, as to what the Christian Faith in fact was; the individualism which persisted in pursuing a course for ‘reunion’ which I had worked out theoretically without a proper appreciation of the practical difficulties… - all these, and more, are part of a mea culpa which found relief in the formal utterance demanded and made gladly on my reception: “With a sincere heart and with unfeigned faith, I detest and abjure every error, heresy and sect opposed to the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church”.
I have tried to set down now, before the memory is blurred, the face of things as it appeared at the time; for the besetting temptation of every convert is to doubt, or at least to minimise, his own good faith in the days before his conversion. And, in the process, it has become clearer than ever to me that “the gift of faith” is, indeed, a gift dispensed by the mercy of God and in no way attainable by any intellectual process. “Credo ut intelligam” remains true.
…[T]here is an earlier passage in [Chesterton’s] Orthodoxy which I find even more appropriate: “Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased”.
So, inside the walls, I have found the freedom and the safety and the happiness of the garden again’.
from The Walled Garden: An Autobiography, 1957
Hugh Ross Williamson was an Anglican priest, 1943-1955
Fr Lee Kenyon
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