reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

A little more than a year ago I was sitting around with two (then) Protestant girl friends, drinking tea, discussing theology–namely Catholicism. Yes, I have better than average friends. We may not know who won an Oscar or who wore what on the red carpet, but we can discuss transubstantiation, theology of the body, and church history until the cows come home.

We all agreed that the Catholic Church had at least one thing absolutely right. That is, the Eucharist. The Real Presence was as true as Jesus Himself in the flesh–well because that’s what it is.  We each expressed a sort of longing to be united with the Universal Church in the Eucharist. Could we make the leap? Could we cross the Tiber? 

We still had nagging questions and serious disagreements about some Catholic dogma and doctrine.  Could we accept the Immaculate Conception? The Queenship of Mary? Infant Baptism? The Sacrament of Confession? I said, “Maybe we need to go talk to a priest. We need to ask if we have to agree with it ALL or can we agree with just the major stuff–the Christology?”

Today, I can safely and confidently say, I believe it all. I cling to it all. I choose it all. The fullness of faith. The tradition and authority of the Church that Jesus built. The Eucharist is my plumb line and by it–through the lens of the Blessed Sacrament–I see everything else clearly.

Adoration at the Vatican

When St. Therese was a child her older sister decided to pass along her dolls and doll trimmings to the younger sisters.  St. Therese records it like this:

A day came when Leonie, thinking she was too old now to play with dolls, came along to us with a basket full of dresses and pretty little bits of stuff for making others, with her own doll lying on the top. “Here you are, darlings,” she said, “choose which of these you’d like; they’re all for you.” Celine put her hand in and brought out a little ball of silken braid which had taken her fancy.  I thought for a moment, and then said, as I held out my hand: “I choose the whole lot!” Then, without further ceremony, I took over the basket. Everybody said I was quite within my rights, and Celine never dreamt of making any protest. …

Only a childish trait, perhaps, but in a sense it’s been the key to my whole life. Later on, when the idea of religious perfection came within my horizon, I realised [sic] at once that there was no reaching sanctity unless you were prepared to suffer a great deal, to be always on the look-out for something higher still, and to forget yourself.  There were plenty of degrees in spiritual advancement, and every soul was free to answer our Lord’s invitation by doing a little for him, or by doing a lot for him; in fact, he gave it a choice between various kinds of self-sacrifice he wanted it to offer. And then, as in babyhood, I found myself crying out: “My God, I choose the whole lot. No point in becoming a Saint by halves.  I’m not afraid of suffering for your sake; the only thing I’m afraid of is clinging to my own will. Take it, I want the whole lot, everything whatsoever that is your will for me.”

Or as another Great once wrote:

The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” (GK Chesterton)

One thought on “I Choose All

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