“But we are of so glorious a company that we receive support, and have communion.”
Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), contemporary and great friend of GK Chesterton, minced no words in his conversations with detractors of the Catholic Church. In a letter to William “Dean” Inge, an Anglican priest, he is at his usual pugilistic best. However, in the midst of his parry and thrust with Inge, an emphatic statement of the Church is made which, in ringing true, touches upon a note of humility, both melancholy and glorious. Belloc admits, in this passage, that no true peace is self-made, but comes through communion with others and with God.
“For what is the Catholic Church? It is that which replies, coordinates, establishes…Here alone is promise, and here alone a foundation. Those of us who boast so stable an endowment make no claim thereby to personal peace; we are not saved thereby alone. But we are of so glorious a company that we receive support, and have communion. The Mother of God is also ours. Our dead are with us. Even in these our earthly miseries we always hear the distant something of an eternal music, and smell a native air. There is a standard set for us whereto our whole selves respond, which is that of an inherited and endless life, quite full, in our own country.”
In terms of my conversion to Catholicism, I know what I am drawn to, and thanks be to God, it is not some whim or personal imagining. It extends beyond the selfish and the immediate. Let me put it this way: Catholicism is so far beyond a sense of instant gratification, like 99.9% of everything else in my life and our present culture, that it hearkens to a peace like no other, and one that is outside the self. And yet it is offered to us without reservation or hindrance. A gift.
For that, I give humble thanks.