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Paradoxes of Catholicism   By: (1871-1914)

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PARADOXES OF CATHOLICISM

BY ROBERT HUGH BENSON

These sermons (which the following pages contain in a much abbreviated form) were delivered, partly in England in various places and at various times, partly in New York in the Lent of 1912, and finally, as a complete course, in the church of S. Silvestro in Capite, in Rome, in the Lent of 1913. Some of the ideas presented in this book have already been set out in a former volume entitled "Christ in the Church" and a few in the meditations upon the Seven Words, in another volume, but in altogether other connexions. The author thought it better, therefore, to risk repetition rather than incoherency in the present set of considerations. It is hoped that the repetitions are comparatively few.

Italics have been used for all quotations, whether verbal or substantial, from Holy Scripture and other literature .

ROBERT HUGH BENSON HARE STREET HOUSE, BUNTINGFORD EASTER, 1913

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTORY (i) JESUS CHRIST, GOD AND MAN (ii) THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, DIVINE AND HUMAN

I PEACE AND WAR

II WEALTH AND POVERTY

III SANCTITY AND SIN

IV JOY AND SORROW

V LOVE OF GOD AND LOVE OF MAN

VI FAITH AND REASON

VII AUTHORITY AND LIBERTY

VIII CORPORATENESS AND INDIVIDUALISM

IX MEEKNESS AND VIOLENCE

X THE SEVEN WORDS

XI LIFE AND DEATH

PARADOXES OF CATHOLICISM

INTRODUCTORY

(i) JESUS CHRIST, GOD AND MAN

I and My Father are one . JOHN X. 30.

My Father is greater than I . JOHN XIV. 20.

The mysteries of the Church, a materialistic scientist once announced to an astonished world, are child's play compared with the mysteries of nature.[1] He was completely wrong, of course, yet there was every excuse for his mistake. For, as he himself tells us in effect, he found everywhere in that created nature which he knew so well, anomaly piled on anomaly and paradox on paradox, and he knew no more of theology than its simpler and more explicit statements.

[Footnote 1: Professor Huxley.]

We can be certain therefore we who understand that the mysteries of nature are, after all, within the limited circle of created life, while the mysteries of grace run up into the supreme Mystery of the eternal and uncreated Life of God we can be certain that, if nature is mysterious and paradoxical, grace will be incalculably more mysterious. For every paradox in the world of matter, in whose environment our bodies are confined, we shall find a hundred in that atmosphere of spirit in which our spirits breathe and move those spirits of ours which, themselves, paradoxically enough, are forced to energize under material limitations.

We need look no further, then, to find these mysteries than to that tiny mirror of the Supernatural which we call our self, to that little thread of experience which we name the "spiritual life." How is it, for example, that while in one mood our religion is the lamp of our shadowy existence, in another it is the single dark spot upon a world of pleasure in one mood the single thing that makes life worth living at all, and in another the one obstacle to our contentment? What are those sorrowful and joyful mysteries of human life, mutually contradictory yet together resultant (as in the Rosary itself) in others that are glorious? Turn to that master passion that underlies these mysteries the passion that is called love and see if there be anything more inexplicable than such an explanation. What is this passion, then, that turns joy to sorrow and sorrow to joy this motive that drives a man to lose his life that he may save it, that turns bitter to sweet and makes the cross but a light yoke after all, that causes him to find his centre outside his own circle, and to please himself best by depriving himself of pleasure? What is that power that so often fills us with delights before we have begun to labour, and rewards our labour with the darkness of dereliction?

I. If our interior life, then, is full of paradox and apparent contradiction and there is no soul that has made any progress that does not find it so we should naturally expect that the Divine Life of Jesus Christ on earth, which is the central Objective Light of the World reflected in ourselves, should be full of yet more amazing anomalies... Continue reading book >>




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