Scripture tells us that the beauty of the king's daughter is within. It is hidden from the eyes of those who gaze upon it only from without. In like manner the beauty of the Catholic worship, the truth of Catholic doctrine, the peace and security of Catholic life are beauty and peace and security and truth that are within. They cannot be rightly known or full appreciated by anyone not a Catholic.
We live in a world today in which Christianity is a divided Christianity. A hundred and one, if not a thousand and one, different churches represent themselves as being christian. But this was not always so. Some four hundred years ago all the nations of the Western world presented a united front; all of the English people, all of the German people, the French, the Swedish, the Danish, all Europe in a word was staunchly Catholic. These were, in all likelihood, your own ancestors. They understood and appreciated the beauty and the truth of their Catholic faith. They had practiced this faith for centuries. Since that time, however, in what is known as the Protestant Reformation, great numbers fell away and great numbers were led away from the Catholic Church. Having withdrawn from the Church of their fathers, they have by now strayed so far from home that things, that once were so familiar and that they loved so deeply, have now become utterly strange and badly misunderstood. But there should be nothing strange to a Protestant returning to the Cahtolic Church, just as there should be nothing strange to a Jew entering it.
I remember the case of a Jewish lady who had become a Catholic. Someone asked her how it felt to become a Catholic. It was at a festival breakfast just after her Baptism. She answered that in reality she didn't know. She had always been a Catholic, she said, only at last she had found the Messias. Everything else was what she had always wanted and, in a way, lived up to.
For the Protestant it would not mean finding the Messias. It would mean simply finding one's way back home to the bosom of the Church the Messias founded. Hence I have entitled this little work, "Simple Chapters to be read on the Way Back Home." Becoming a convert to a new religion could mean a turning to embrace something new. In this case, however, the something new is in reality something very old, something that all your forefathers believed in and prized before you. It means turning away from the uncertainty, the doubt, and the confusion in which men live today, back to the security and peace that exists in the Church Christ established.
The First Christians were all converts. Peter, upon whom Christ established His Church, was a convert, together with all the other Apostles. And they were so inflamed with zeal for the new religion Christ taught them, that they set out gladly over the whole world to give their lives to the task of converting the world to that to which Christ had converted them. Since that time many Jews have entered the Church, pagans in all parts of the world have entered the Church, and many Christians, who for one reason or another had lost the light of that faith, re-entered her Fold to place their feet once more on the true path to salvation. This is the path Christ Himself pointed out, He who declared: "I am the Way, the Truth, the Life."
Photo: Evening Prayer
Townspeople gather to say their evening prayers.
Location: Quebec, Canada - 1942
Photographer: John Phillips
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