Monday, October 24, 2005

Conversion One Step at a Time

I still recall with amusement Fr. Benedict Groeschel's proclamation to the students on the spiritual year during the year I was there. He looked at all of us and said, "I am sincerely praying that Madonna would return to the Faith and become a cloistered Carmelite nun." We howled with laughter at the thought, but Fr. Benedict chastened us. He said something like, "Grace works even when you're not expecting it to." The linked article gives some evidence of this.

I am always pleased to see someone return to the practice of the Faith, and from my experience, I can report that it is something of a daily event. Regularly, folks would appear in the confession or in my office and say, "I'm ready to come back." After wandering, they awaken to the gift of conversion. Granted, this is only the first step. There is much more in the offing. But at least it's a start.

To hear that Mrs. Rice has returned to the Catholic Faith pleases me mightily. I always suspected that Rice was a Catholic, although possibly a lapsed one. There was something about her books, the two that I read, that tipped me off. But to be honest I couldn't tell you now what that was. At any rate, it's nice to have you back, Mrs. Rice. And anyone reading this blog who has lapsed from the Faith should know that goes double for you. The average revert will not receive the support of understanding popular fans so I suspect it will be twice as hard for you, the invisible revert, to come back. If you need help or encourage me, just fire off an email and I'll do what I can. Just don't expect prompt responses.

However, with all this goodwill flowing from my pores, I do have a concern to voice and it has to do with Rice's new novel coming out. Now, this is not to dispute her good intentions or the sincerity of her re-version, but I get leery when I hear about novels focused on the childhood of Jesus. From what the article says, Rice is gathering from lots of sources, some of them kosher and some of them not so much. It reminds me of what Msgr. Romano Guardini said in his preface to his masterwork, The Lord, that mere psychology is never enough to analyze our Lord because he is greater than any created science. The Lord is greater than our capacity to understand Him, and therefore, to write novels about Him means running the mine field of turning the Living Lord into a dead idol, and an American one at that. I am particularly concerned with Rice's alleged dependance upon Gnostic sources, such as the Gospel of Thomas. I know that the article makes no mention of the exact apocryphal texts employed, but given the events that are slated to make an appearance, there is only one source for them that I know of, and that's the Gospel of Thomas. It's strange that such a feminist author would employ a text which concludes that for Mary Magdalene to enter the Kingdom she must be remade as a man (read male). If I find the time and the method I might just drop her an email. I wonder who is helping her in this time of return.

So, here's my thought. Tonight or some time soon, let's all say a Rosary for Mrs. Rice and all revert Catholics on the way. This article is a helpful reinforcement of last Sunday's Gospel. We need to love the Lord with everything, and that occasionally means changing our minds and putting on the new life and person of Christ. And if you read this Mrs. Rice, welcome home.

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