Recent Posts

Thursday, 11 December 2014

To Be A Catholic

For almost two hours, one of my mentors in this world and I discussed poetry, from Gawain and the Pearl, to Morte d'Arthur, the five virtues of chivalry, the nature of the soul in time and out of time, the Last Supper, the Passion, the great councils of the Church, fairy tales of six or seven authors, swans, snakes, Celtic art, Chesterton, Julian of Norwich, Thomas More, John Fisher, Suarez, the Jesuits, Rahner, Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, the Pilgrimage of Grace, Richard III, the Five Wounds of Christ, the Throckmortons, Sherborne's Old Castle, Sir Walter Raleigh, Arundel Castle, the Duchess of Norfolk, the last Plantagenet Margaret Pole, Cardinal Pole, fantasy novels, The Phantom of the Opera, the Passionists, St. Alphonsus, Glastonbury, Avalon, Merlin, Robert Hugh Benson, the book of Revelation, Dante's Inferno, Napoleon, the Vendee, Marseilles and legends, Pugin and the Victorian revival of Catholic architecture, the True Presence, the martyrs of Otranto, the Knights of Malta, the Knights of Jerusalem, Isaiah, Ezechiel, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Mary the Mystical Rose, the myth of Psyche, Thomas Aquinas, the Jansenists, grace, Garrigou-Lagrange, desert experiences and other sundry things, including Littlehampton, and Norwich.

At the end of this conversation, which did not end, my friend stated that what we experienced was a soaking in Catholic identity. There are only three people in the world I can speak with at such a level of history, literature, myth, philosophy, theology, art, music, and architecture. Sadly, these people are separated by thousands of miles. We are all Catholics who love our Faith and the Church. We identify first and foremost as Catholics.

But, Catholic identity sixty, seventy years ago could be part of one's life just by being Catholic.

What has been lost is so scattered, that I feel like a person combing a beach after a shipwreck for pieces of identity....a  rosary here, a medal there, a piece of a poem, a chant, a candlestick, all washed up on the shore of modern man's empty world.

For years, I tried to set up schools in classical education, knowing that the liberal arts were part of our identity. For years, I taught a combination of history, music, philosophy, literature and art to students who thought they were in a religion class. They got it-that Christianity created Western culture, that Europe was the Faith and the Faith was Europe. To think like a Catholic was to immerse one's self in a Catholic identity. One could understand the Penny Catechism better if one knew the bare ruined choirs of Yorkshire.

One does not separate knowledge, which is connected by the great and beautiful Catholic religion.

I passed some of this identity to my son, who, once in awhile, notes that he has no one to talk to about such things, neither do I, except for my three friends, far away, in other countries.

The remnant must stop and pick up the detritus of Catholic identity before this identity completely disappears into the sea of time.

I hope it is not too late, that the tide of utilitarianism has not wiped away all traces of true civilization based on Christ and His Church. What has been lost can be found again.

Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
   This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.