She is as young and as much an obstacle to all worldly politicians, as much an offense to all who seek another ideal than hers, as she was when Nero ruled or Elizabeth tyrannized.
But is it possible to meet the phenomenon of the Church's age long Resurrection by any explanation that will not break down — to account, on secular or social principles, for the fact that while she has met reverses which no other religion or empire or society has ever been called upon to meet, yet she is more vital than them all? That she is as young and as active as she was a thousand years ago, as much an obstacle to all worldly politicians, as much an offense to all who seek another ideal than hers, as much a scandal and a stumbling-block to her critics, as she was when Nero ruled or Elizabeth tyrannized or Arius or Voltaire sneered.
For I see through her eyes, the Eyes of God to shine, and through her lips I hear his words. In each of her hands as she raises them to bless, I see the wounds that dripped on Calvary, and her feet upon her altar stairs are signed with the same marks as those which the Magdalene kissed. As she comforts me in the confessional I hear the voice that bade the sinner go and sin no more; and as she rebukes or pierces me with blame I shrink aside trembling with those who went out one by one, beginning with the eldest, till Jesus and the penitent were left alone. As she cries her invitation through the world I hear the same ringing claim as that which called, "Come unto me and find rest to your souls."
Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson. "Graces of the Chair of St. Peter." from Christ in the Church series I, number 4 (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1941).
Reproduced by permission of Continuum International Publishing Group, A Bloomsbury Company.
This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in February 2013.
Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, became a Roman Catholic priest, a novelist, and a prominent writer of apologetics. Benson was the youngest son of E. W. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as head of the Anglican Church, was the upholder of the Protestant establishment in England. As such, his son's conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1903, and his subsequent ordination, caused a sensation. Not since Newman's conversion almost 60 years earlier had the reception of a convert into the Church caused such a commotion. Shudders of shock shook the Anglican establishment, whereas many Catholics rejoiced at the news of such a high-profile coup with unrestrained triumphalism. Hugh Benson was lauded in his own day as one of the leading figures in English literature, yet today he is almost completely forgotten outside Catholic circles and is sadly neglected even among Catholics. Few stars of the literary firmament, either before or since, have shone quite so brightly in their own time before being eclipsed quite so inexplicably in posterity. Almost a century after his conversion, Benson has become the unsung genius of the Catholic Literary Revival.
Benson was a prolific author. His works include theological writings, such as Paradoxes of Catholicism, An Average Man, By What Authority?, Christ in the Church, The Religion of the Plain Man, and The Friendship of Christ, as well as novels, among the most famous of which are Lord of the World and Come Rack! Come Rope!Copyright © Continuum International Publishing Group
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