Books and Culture
In the Basilicia of the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí brought the divine into the heart of secular Western Europe.
A few weeks ago I spent a muggy evening on my front porch ruminating.
The proximity of religious difference in our globalized world raises new tasks for Christians.
In 1929, shortly before he was to leave Germany to become cardinal secretary of state, the then papal nuncio and future pontiff, Eugenio
What Would Newman Say?
Most people have heard about my conversion to Catholicism in 1845, and of course that was a pivotal moment in my life. But it was more concerned with church than with faith. I would put my conversion to faith much earlier, in the autumn of 1816 when a period of crisis and breakthrough gave me a new sense of God that lasted for the rest of my life. With my passion for reading I had been flirting with the ideas of some radical atheists, such as Hume, and I found their arguments impressive and plausible. From their external perspective God seemed incredible. For me, with my conventional Christian upbringing, it shook my foundations. I was just fifteen, with all the usual fragilities of adolescence, magnified by a financial crisis in the family that caused me to stay on alone at my boarding school through the summer holidays. In fact I fell sick but, a little like St Ignatius of Loyola, that illness proved a major turning point for me. It was providential that a young teacher at the school, Rev. Walter Mayers, took me under his wing. He was a kindly Evangelical Calvinist and offered me alternative reading, to help me to see the limitations of those empirical thinkers. More importantly he guided me towards a more personal discovery of God. I experienced, prayerfully and powerfully, that God spoke to me in my conscience and that this God was both real and greater than my individual existence. It was a moment of revelation and of grace that never again left me. It was not simply an emotional or even a sudden conversion: gradually, over a number of months, I arrived at a firm belief in God’s mercy and providence, and a definite sense of being called into a lasting relationship with Christ. It was a change of heart, certainly, but also an enlargement of my mind. From reading a book by Thomas Scott, called The Force of Truth, I realized that life could be a long love affair with truth, an adventure that demanded total fidelity, and that being faithful to God’s truth would mean a constant battle against the more superficial world in me and around me. I came to cherish his claim that growth is the only evidence of life.